By Gaby Orwick
After an epic dream-come-true once-in-a-lifetime experience of hiking the Inca Trail for 4-days to Machu Picchu, we had much to reflect on and be grateful for. See Mike’s videos for more on that part of our StudioEverywhere travel adventure.
An exciting opportunity was ahead and we readily shifted gear to planning for our StudioEverywhere art project: Peru edition, on our last day in the country. We had made plans with Aracelly from The Meeting Place to take us to the Altivas Canas house, which helps provide after-school care for single mothers’ kids. The Meeting Place, located in the San Blas square in Cusco, creates many volunteer opportunities, including support for underprivileged children.
Of course, we heard last min from the Aldea Yanapay school about going a project there also, but it would have been during the exact same time, and we sadly had to say “next time.” Looks with a worthy cause – there are about 80 kids in their after-school program, so we’d love to inspire other volunteers visiting Cusco to help out. Still wish we had connected sooner, but again, if we had, maybe we would not have gotten to meet the kids from the Altivas Canas house. And that experience was priceless!
We went to Plasticos2000 (near the San Francisco plaza) to get the supplies and used every last sole we had to buy lots of paper, paint, brushes, cups, plastic plates, paper towels and all – S/175 or about $60 well spent. Made it to San Blas just in time, hopped on a taxi with Aracelly and were off. The unexpected bonus was we got to see more of “real Cusco” away from the main square and tourist areas – quite different – unfinished brick buildings, dusty roads, smoking hillside. Knew Cusco was big but hadn’t appreciated it had over 600K permanent residents.
Quintina, who runs the Altivas Canas house, greeted with a smile, and walked us to a big aluminum door just up the street from where we met. We entered a dirt-floor garage, sporting a big blackboard, and flanked by two small rooms and a bathroom. The kids were doing homework when we arrived. One little girl jumped up to give me a hug and introduce herself – Angelica – she turned out to be a fireball of energy, smiles, and enthusiasm. Couple other kids come f or hugs, and we tried to help with homework as we could. Elena played with the little ones.
We had asked Aracelly to help explain the idea of the self-portraits and how kids see themselves, and Mike started them off with drawing a big shape for their head/face, and adding the eyes, nose and mouth with a pencil before laying out the paints. That actually worked.
It was a little hectic setting up space for all the kids in the tiny room, but again… making it work is the name of the game. We ended up using less than a third of the paints we brought, as unlike prior projects, most kids were done after 1-2 paintings, so there was plenty of paper left, too, for future art making!
There were 13 kids in total that day, ages 2-10. They were darling, present and adorable, and did quite the fantastic job painting with us. They drew, mixed colors, asked questions, laughed, and were a true delight to work with. They posed for pictures, too.
All wanted to play, and wrestle, and twirl around. While Mike and Elena indulged them, I took the chance to step out and get some snacks. We had spotted a store on the way over, and Aracelly and I were able to pick up bananas, apples, juice boxes, cereal bags, water, and a big orange cake. The kids enjoyed the cake, juice and apples, and Quintina saved the rest for the next day’s after-school snack.
Clean up was a bit challenging as the water stopped running a couple hours in, but we made do. Used a bucket and soap to make sure everyone’s hands were clean, paper towels for the palettes and tables, and bottled water to wash the fruit.
Feels really great to create these special experiences, celebrate art and a true connection with local kids everywhere we go. Grateful for StudioEverywhere and energized and validated with every project opportunity we get!
~ Gaby Orwick | Oct 9, 2015