Shadja3ah

Mira (15 years old) chose the word “Shajaah” (bravery in arabic). She told me that you have to be brave to live in Balata. There’s constant tension in the Camp, shootings waking you up at night, and incertainty when it come to the future.

Omy

“I chose the word “Omy” (=my mother in Arabic). My mother has cancer and I want to show her love. This mural is for her.” – Iyara, 11 years old, in Balata Refugee Camp, Palestine.

Future

Hassan was a teacher back in Syria. His life changed when the war started and he migrated to Irak, but he still has the same mission. He now teaches geography to teenagers of the refugee camp, and asked me to paint the word “Future”, because the next generation of young Kurds is what he cares about the most. I painted the word on the local school here in the camp where students are about to begin their end-of-school exams.

Ambition

Diyar, originally from Qamishli (Syria), wanted me to paint the word “Ambition” on his house. He told me that his ambition was to study chemistry. At the moment he’s finishing his schooling here in the refugee camp, but next year he will have to go to university in Erbil or abroad. He’s hoping to move to Newcastle (UK), where his aunt lives, but it’ll be several months before he is given the green light. Wherever he’ll be next year, Diyar will remain ambitious and will keep moving forwards.

Back in Bogota!

Teusaquillo_Bogota

I rarely get to paint nice old houses like this one. Thank you to the Whee team who got me to paint their new language and cultural centre in Teusaquillo, Bogotá. It was a pleasure to paint this almost abstract mural with the help of very friendly people.

“Le Mur Cherbourg”

Peace_Mur_Cherbourg

I was invited by “Le Mur” Cherbourg to paint in the center of town. Before I started painting I went to a small refugee camp and met some young lads mainly from Afghanistan living in small tents on the outskirts of the town. I asked them to choose a word they would like to share with everyone. They didn’t take a long to give me the word PEACE. Their country has been at war their whole lives and even now these young men are in France, they’re far from being in peace. This wall is from them to us all.
Big thank you to the organisers of “Le Mur Cherbourg” for inviting me!

Ladies’ Bench

ladies-bench

Every afternoon the ladies gather on the bench, and chat for hours. We asked Asma to chose a word, and she came up with “Eksat” (the Hindi word for “Together”). She thought it would suit the place.
For me, the ladies’ bench is a source of inspiration since women here always wear beautiful dresses and sarees with vibrant colours. They told me I had to dress well if I wanted to have my picture taken on the bench with them. Ladies’ bench rules!

itcha-1

“Itcha” means “wish” in Hindi. The word was chosen by one of our good friends in the slum, Arbaz, a 17-year old college student. He was big dreams of traveling the world one day!

muskan

We painted Arshad’s house without telling him. He’s a very friendly guy, and we wanted to paint a little surprise for him. We asked his neighbours and family to choose a word and they went for “Muskan” (which means “Smile” ). He works at a hotel in central Mumbai and he was delighted to see our work when he came home! All smiles in Phule Nagar!

lakhan

This is Lakhan, one of our good friends from Phule Nagar. He’s deaf and can’t speak at all, not even sign language. He’s never been to school and therefore he can’t read or write either. In fact, apart from a few hand gestures he can’t communicate with anyone. He spends his days selling packets of water around the local train station. His mother boils water to make it drinkable and puts it in plastic packets which she then pops into the fridge. For the past few weeks we’ve been living off this water!

Each morning, Lakhan comes into our house and wakes us up by pulling our feet, a way of saying it’s time to go to work. Every evening, when the sun sets, he comes over to us and gestures that the day is over and we should pack our gear. Then he comes over to our house after dinner and we have a little drawing session. His drawings are those of a brain almost untouched by culture. Unique and spontaneous!