Friday, April 9, 2021

Commitment, Effort, Perseverance and Respect

April is not my favourite month in this part of the world. The air tends to be hot, dry and dusty, opaque and in unappealing shades of a yellowish grey. Gusts of wind scatter ashes from volcanoes or forest fires as well as sand from dirt roads. The mountains are brownish, the earth eagerly waiting to soak up the first drops of rain. But since it’s not raining, it is of course a good time for mural painting.

My time in Guatemala is finally coming to an end. I’ll probably paint no more community murals in the next few months, so I was very happy to end my stay with this one. I found a perfect wall through my assistant Henry Calel who went to his old elementary school to pick up some paper work. It turned out his then favourite teacher is now director of the school in San Miguel Escobar, a suburb of Ciudad Vieja in Guatemala. While catching up with her, he told her about the murals he had helped painting and she was very interested in having one at her school. The wall she offered was just the way I like it, big, in a good shape and very visible.

Finding funding for the mural wasn’t a problem either. The Dutch foundation Colour4Kids generously offered to sponsor the mural, preferably with a theme that involves children’s rights. A design was quickly made, the theme the right of every child to engage in play and recreational activities. Sport in this case, since the wall is at the school’s basketball court. The mural also represents the right to gender equity and equality as well as the values of commitment, effort, perseverance and respect.

So off we went! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to involve any children in the painting process because the school is still closed due to the pandemic, with only teachers present to prepare homework assignment for their students. The wall was in a pretty good shape and the weather good in the sense that it was dry. Very dry. Also, very hot and windy, with gusts so strong we were almost blown of the ladder a few times. But we managed and the mural is up!

While painting this mural I realised once again that, despite challenges such as the weather, there is hardly a thing I enjoy doing more. I hope to come back rather sooner than later to pick up my paint brush again and transform some more walls.

In the meantime, thanks are due! I couldn’t have done this without the help of my ever so lovey assistant Henry Calel who has become quite indispensable. Of course, many thanks to Erik, Hassan and Jos of Colour4Kids for sponsoring and all the support. And Catherine Corry, thank you for driving us there and back!