|Photo and wall paint by Sajes Tamang|
I have been to Manichuood on 3rd of July. I was there as a quake volunteers with a team of Youth Motivation Camp. A local school have been reduced to rubble after the quake and youth action Nepal have help them build school through crowd funding on social networking sites which helped them to build one shelter TLC - Temporary Learning Center - with three classrooms. Mr. Punya Bhandari, Programme Coordinator, who took active part in this project from the very beginning starting from raising funds to involved in this work as a volunteer to do everything, so that the school gets its shelter fast and children get a chance to go to school sooner was invited by the school management for a function. It was also the day schedule for TLC handover ceremony to the school management.
It was a beautiful shelter from outside, and when I looked inside the plain wall looked just stared blankly from all sides. I thought, this would have looked better if it was painted. Back home I quietly, searched for some artist ready to volunteer for such work. Facebook made this work really easy. Couple of young artist instantly responded. Quake hit nation, so everyone is ready to do anything for this country. Then, I shared this thought with Bhawana Bhatta, general secretary, Youth Action Nepal. She instantly liked the idea and said we can start it soon with Basu Higher Secondary School, Bhaktapur.
In the first meeting, the artist was little bit unsure of doing it, all alone, even though; he had done similar type of painting work before. We have little time to handover the completed [zink sheet] TLC, to the school management. Therefore, we started painting wall very next day of our meeting. Before that, the artist had gone to see the classroom, size of wall and also to get some idea from the school management to discuss about what kind of paintings would be better inside the classroom of young children.
That helped artist a lot to get clear idea about the paintings, so he worked accordingly, selecting some good pictures or children. Most of us shared first days wall painting on our post on facebook. The response from people was overwhelming. Arpan Bhuju, civil engineer, who is leading this particular project from the very beginning, visited to see the work. When we reach almost the final work of a wall, then he shared with me, I was not convinced about it when I heard about it in the beginning but after seeing it, I have to admit I was wrong about it. Its so good and unlike other rebuild and reconstruction this a lot different yet it has lasting impact in the mind of child. Hearing that made me feel good about it.
Bhuju, the engineer is involved in many other construction works as a leader that is going on under the banner of Youth Action Nepal, which primarily focus on TLC. So, I asked him, will you make this a prime part of all your construction from now on when you build schools ? Yes, was his answer. That approval meant a lot for me to come up a new solution to heal young children of quake hit nation, in a way; that do not necessarily mean to spent lots of money on it.
One of the team member was telling me that, with this cost which we spend on this painting could have allowed to buy one bundle of zink sheet that would have been more useful for other projects. Do you also think this painting just added ‘extra expenses’ on this budget TLC ? what is your take on that comment, I asked this to Bhawana Bhatta. I was really curious to know her opinion on it. Of Course, we need shelter as primary need, she said and further added, but; there should be no comparison between the cost of shelter over our head and the art on wall. Music, art and sports have different and unseen way of connecting and healing people in every society. Everyone need mental shelter as much as roof over our head. One does not diminish the importance of other in anyway, because these are absolutely different things.
|from left the artist - Sajes Tamang, Sunita Giri, Kanchan Bhattarai, Arpan Bhuju and Roshan Nepal|
There is no doubt, we all seem to be agreeing on one point, that this art on the wall, can do more than what meets eyes. It can do more than a group of adult counselors visiting school and running a counselling session or telling them to paint the thought on a blank paper. When they see it daily in their classroom, they will go home after school and then they will do it without being told. This art piece will inspire them, encourage them and entertain them that too without using a single word. There is this famous saying, a picture speaks a thousand language. If that is true, then a wall painting can tell a story that is possible after using ten thousands words.
When the wall got finishing touch from the artist, it was not what I could have envisioned in my mind, staring at blank and boring walls. It was a hundred times better than what I have thought after seeing the plain walls of a school in Manichood. The programme coordinator was telling me all the way about its lovely scenes and fresh air and the power it can have in our mind. Maybe he is right about that fresh air, but I think its the blank walls that was inviting anyone [not just me] to write something, paint something on it. So, this way I must say my visit to manhood have been fruitful to get an idea that may help a society.
One single organisation can't do this work alone, to paint all the school walls of young children. If, lots of other people get inspired to paint art on blank walls, then it will be a way to help a bigger society through art. Because, this is an invisible way of healing and educating children. Therefore, I would like to urge more people to get inspired from this. How lovely it would be if everyone who are in rebuild and reconstruction paints the wall for school children.
I am very hopeful there will be days, painting wall of school children's classroom will be a prime focus of education board Members, school principals and educators around the nation and all of them will come up with bigger and better ideas to get the attention of children, when it comes to connect them through art and creativity.
My special thanks to artist, Sajes Tamang for giving me more than what I could see with my eyes. All you needed is five days and four helping hands to show us how the mind of artist works. That's why artists are needed to include in rebuild and reconstruction of the quake hit nation.