My dear artist friend, Penny, and I laid out vibrant arcs of paint tubes in various color schemes across the art store floor. After we finalized our purchase, Penny tucked the supplies into her suitcase and carried it across the ocean to Kenya. She squirted the colors onto palettes, and twenty-four Sanctuary of Hope (SoH) kids created individual paintings and also a group masterpiece with each heart painted by a different child: Many Hearts, One Family.
When Penny returned to Colorado with the colorful artwork, we dreamed of hanging a gallery and bringing it to market to benefit SoH, but we were unsure of the course. Our friends we serve with on the Colorado Springs Kenya Country Support Team (CST), a group of Hope’s Promise supporters who work together to raise awareness and funds for SoH, began to dream with us. Then, a fortuitous new relationship with Danielle, artisan extraordinaire and owner of a Colorado Springs boutique called Sincerely Danielle Shunk (SDS), added the spark to shine the way. Using parking lot space outside SDS, the Kenya CST partnered with Danielle to host a tented SoH art gallery, as well as a silent auction fundraiser, last weekend.
In a fairytale ending to an enchanted evening, a long-time SoH partner purchased Many Hearts, One Family and gave it to Penny.
It was a night of dreams come true, of celebrating the magic of art, imagination, and some of my favorite kids in the whole world.
Prints of Many Hearts, One Family are available here through Pamba Toto, with all profits benefiting Sanctuary of Hope.
Below are just some of the masterpieces sold last weekend and the young artists who created them:
Abandoned at birth, Sammy was rescued by a Mother Teresa Home for Abandoned Children in Nairobi, Kenya. He almost died from a severe infection at 10-months-of-age. A miraculous intervention and series of events brought him at age 7 to Sanctuary of Hope (SoH). He thrived in the love and nurture of his new parents and family until learning disabilities undermined his self-esteem. Once the exuberant leader of the SoH kids’ special rap song, he hid in the background. His parents located a special education school for him; and finally able to learn, Sammy’s natural leadership gifts once again flourish. His confidence restored, Sammy now enjoys school and easily makes friends. He was even elected as the Environmental Captain by his schoolmates.
With a big smile, Esther is a sweet and happy girl. Her SoH siblings love to take care of her, and she eagerly soaks up the attention of her care-givers. Nine years old now, Esther can run and communicate with simple words.
These accomplishments were once an unlikely dream. Esther was born under-sized and weak in Mathare Valley. Sometimes the best a mother can hope for a sickly baby born into the desperation of a third world slum is that the child will die.
Esther defied the odds. She spent much of her early years in the Mathare Worship Centre daycare. When Esther was two years old, she was photographed in Debbie’s arms by a Nairobi newspaper. The Kenyan reporter noted Esther’s protruding belly as evidence of malnutrition; and in the article, Debbie pleaded for someone to help the child. At age five, Esther still could not walk or speak. She rarely, if ever, smiled and her eyes appeared vacant. Moved by her plight and with the support of various friends who met Esther in Mathare Valley, Pastor and Mama Karau rescued her into the Sanctuary of Hope family in 2010.
A photograph taken within weeks of Esther’s homecoming shows her laughing on Pastor Karau’s lap. Soon after, she took her first steps to the gleeful cheers of her new family. She can now read the alphabet but struggles to write. She enjoys her siblings, but loves being with her house-parents most of all.
Now begin new dreams! Fresh from Kenya, twenty four “star” paintings, and a group masterpiece comprised of individually painted stars, await the 2016 SoH gallery and fundraiser!