Sunday, November 20, 2016

Children's Rights Mural Project in the Dominican Republic Postponed

Mural design for one of the schools in Puerto Plata (2.43 x 213m)

Today is International Day of Children’s Rights and up to a few hours ago I was extremely excited for my trip tomorrow to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic to paint a series of murals with this theme at two schools, invited by the Dutch Colour4Kids Foundation.

A new concept that I have developed for this project is a series of colouring pages depicting the design of the mural, in black and white, of course. The selected schools in Puerto Plata both have about 200 students each and it is impossible to involve all children in the painting process, especially the little ones. So I designed colouring pages, six different ones of the big 24 meter long mural at the one school, and a compilation of all rights for the other school. It hopefully won’t just teach children about their rights, but also involve them in the process of creating the mural by colouring the same design that will be painted in a much larger scale on the wall of their school. The colouring pages will also be available on line (and below).

Alas, the project just got postponed! As you might know, for weeks now there have been horrendous rains in the Dominican Republic, causing major flooding and a wave of havoc and destruction. Thousands of people have been evacuated, roads and bridges are destroyed and whole areas are inaccessible, especially in the Puerto Plata area where I was heading.

This morning I talked with Erik, one of the coordinators of Colour4Kids. Erik has been there for a week now, to oversee the construction work at the two schools that is being sponsored by Colour4Kids, which is now at a halt too. He told me the situation is terrible (his overseeing has turned into emergency aid work) and we made the difficult decision to postpone the mural project. It’s not only a matter of logistics (getting there and maybe not being able to paint with the continuing rains) but mostly because painting a series of murals is not a priority now. People are busy saving whatever they can of their already scarce possessions and for now it’s recovery and reconstruction. Hopefully everything will be back on the rails soon and the murals will be on the wall in a few months. In the meantime, I really hope the sun will soon shine again over the Dominican Republic and that losses can me minimized. Wishing people the very best and thinking how awful and ironic it is that today, International Day of Children’s Rights, so may kids once again will lack even the most basic of those.