“I would like you to paint the word “Sabu” which means “praise be to god” in Zerma. I went to a school set up by the mission during the colonial era and I was a christan like my father. When I got married I became a muslim, but whatever I call my god, and regardless of how I pray, I’ve always thanked god for the life he’s given me. I have 5 children and 6 grandchildren and everyday I say “Sabu”. ” – Yvonne in the slum of Kombo, in Niamey, Niger.
Sourou (=Patience in Zerma) was chosen by Koda La Cadette. “Patience is a necessary vertue here as nothing comes quickly and easily.” It’s the 145th mural I’ve painted as part of Share The Word Project and it’s the first time that the word “Patience” is given to me!
Moussa, 25 years old, chose the word “Union” to stress how important it is for different ethnic groups to come together as one. He’s originally from Burkina Faso, his family having left to find work in Niger in the early 90s. But whether people are Zerma, Hausa, Tuarag, or from foreign ethnic groups, the most important thing is to work together.
Inaya chose the word “Paix” (=Peace in French). She told me that being in peace is a necessary step to achieve great things. She hopes that her 3 children will grow up in a peaceful world!
Sameena helped us a lot with the “Muskan” mural by spending hours on small details. For our last wall before we leave Mumbai, she would like us to paint the word “Trust” on the square. I’ve painted 123 words in slums of 10 different countries and it’s the first time I’m going to paint “Trust”. It’s also a great word to describe our relationship with the people of Phule Nagar.
“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!
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!
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!
Rubina, the slum leader chose to share the word “Ekta” (=Unity in Maharati).
Ajay chose the word “Nisarga” which means “nature” in Maharati.