A boy painting his home

The week before he joined an “art party” at the children’s center where he lives.  A teacher has been working with kids at the center since mid-2007, and some of the older students are very good. They helped the younger kids during the art party, taking up brushes occasionally to teach by example. The results were amazing, and moving if you know the stories behind them.

I made a short video documenting the event (coming soon).

I like the image of creating a painting, and this one has a subscript for me. It’s a boy at an orphanage painting his home – not an imaginary home, but the home where his mother lives. I don’t know his particular story, because he’s new to the center, but it’s a fact that the vast majority of children and youth in orphanages have homes and relatives: grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters. Most still have one living parent, and quite a few have two. The number one reason they are in orphanages is poverty. There are many orphanages but few family support services to restore families and keep them together.

It’s not surprising that a child in an orphanage would paint his home, but it should challenge us to question whether we can do better.

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About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .

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