In this post Merabi, one of the TravelAid team, talks about the role of art at JWOC and introduces their wonderful mural….
Arts and crafts are an important part of JWOC. Regular art classes are held for the children, where singing, dancing and story-telling are combined with art. And so, when planning our summer activities program, we made sure to include plenty of opportunities for the children to let their creative sides flourish.
In the past three weeks the children have created drums, shakers, cookie box guitars, friendship bracelets, paper-mache globes, fabric mice, a world map, a loo-roll snake, animal masks and several drawings. Whenever any of these activities were carried out, the children would sink into a deep level of concentration and determination. The artistic challenges set were not always easy but with the right amount of guidance, the children were able to create some unique pieces of art.
As the children tackled these tasks, the team was left with their own artistic challenge. We remembered that at some point in our introductory week, Nicola had given us the job of decorating one of the blank walls in the school’s back garden. We were asked to make sure that nothing was left unpainted, and that the mural kept to the theme of ‘nature’.
Thus, in our last week, we began to work on the mural. At first, we had no idea of what to paint. After discussing some thoughts, we soon decided that we couldn’t think of anything. Luckily, fellow volunteer Rees had been sketching all along and presented us with the A4 drawing shown below.  Within an evening, Rees had penciled in the main outline. At this point, it was up to me and my Khmer partner Sopaekday to paint the wall. 
With no experience of painting, Sopaekday and I began to plan. We envisaged lilac elephants, bears with yellow bellies, golden coconut trees and monkeys with questionable haircuts. Along the way we made several mistakes, like painting the foreground before the background, or forgetting which colours mix to make brown.
Eventually, with the help of several other team members, we produced the mural below. The two elephants represent JWOC.
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