by: Katie Markley
Today began with a spark of energy. We had agreed to create a mural at Transitions and today was the day. Up early, out the door, and into a Tuk Tuk. Weaving through a sea of motos, bicycles, pedestrians and cars we began to discuss our plans. A draft had been created for the painting to offer guidance yet if there is one thing we have learned, it is to adapt. We planned for potential hangups and altered the design to suit the space.
The mural’s design reflects the mission of Transitions. A butterfly was selected to be the central image as we have noticed this symbol arising in the art created through our work in Cambodia. When inquiring about the meaning of the butterfly we were told that it represents peace to many Khmer people. At the tips of the butterfly’s wings you can see the profile of young women, a simplified representation of the girls at Transitions. Lotus flowers are incorporated throughout, depicted in various stages of blooming. The piece is surrounded by the Transitions logo, “Freedom Begins with a Dream,” written in both English and Khmer.
We worked wholeheartedly and focused for nearly five hours to cultivate the final product you see here. While standing back and taking in our efforts we were amazed at what can be accomplished in such a short amount of time. Marissa offered that it felt like we had participated in a “mural flashmob” and I would agree.
The second half of the day was spent with the girls. They greeted us warmly, beaming smiles our way and quizzing us on the Khmer words they had taught us in our last meeting. We sat on the floor in a large circle and settled into the dance of our two languages being spoken one after the other, English translated into Khmer and Khmer back to English. It is a practice in patience and quiet listening.
We offered the girls the dream flags that were created by the Naropa community during our Small Resources=Big Possibilities art auction. A girl next to me held one of the flags, rubbing her fingers over the green and gold paint, and said “suh-aht” (beautiful). Then, we guided the group in making charm necklaces as a way to both build relationship between our merging groups and offer an opportunity to make something special for oneself, an act of self-love if you will. The girls all completed necklaces reflecting their personal style. We concluded our meeting by sharing some of our talents with each other. Meg and Emma offered a duet of Amazing Grace and the girls performed a traditional dance. We left feeling full.
There is more to come…thank you following!