Artists in Community International is a tiny organisation – the core of which is Alex Pinder and me, Anne Riggs. When we land in India and Nepal our little organisation expands with new members such as Tariq Khan, Subarna Thapa and Shivani Saria, who also donate their services on the art projects. The projects in Nepal and India happen because many people put their hands into the pockets and donate funds – they see the value of committing time, resources, skills and services. Others, such as Dhanraj Malik support our projects with transport and accommodation, and others send art materials.
We have a strong relationship with the Mahatma Gandhi International School in Ahmedabad, with its students, teachers, and founders Anju Musafir and Pascal Chazot – we are friends and guests in their home. Lissa Chazot is a friend and a teacher at the school – she, and the students were so moved by the story of the children in the brick kilns in Nepal that they decided to reach out to them and help. They responded to knowing that children were hungry and cold – and that they were suffering.
They gathered a collection of warm clothes for them. They spent money they had earned to purchase powered milk in response to my story about the crying baby in the brick kilns, and they wrote letters – in Nepali – to these children as a message of friendship and support. The school sent art materials.
We are very moved by the thoughtfulness and generosity of these young people and Lissa – they were able to see suffering and they chose to do something to alleviate it.
Back in Nepal we discussed with UEMs how best to distribute the gifts so that they went to the people who needed them most – but without causing tension within communities. We decided to pass the clothes and milk to Jharuwarashi Youth Information Centre – a local organisation who supports the brick kiln people. Just as we returned from India to Nepal, Jharuwarashi had put out a call for donations of warm clothes – so the clothes from the Mahatma Gandhi International School will find the right little body to keep warm as Jhanuwarashi will pass them onto those in most need.
We passed the art materials and half the letters to young people in the rural area not far from the brick kilns who attend the READ library and resource service. These young people were delighted to receive the warm and friendly greetings from fellow students from India. We all enjoyed working with the art materials to create a wonderful collection of concertina books.
When we told friends in Australia about the harsh sun and conditions in which the salt pan families live, nine year old Leo gave us hats that he had brought back from Bali – he decided to send them to India to help protect the salt pan children. We left them at the salt pan school in the Little Rann of Kutch for the children to use when they are outside playing.