Holiday in Hawaii for the Young Lions

After traveling for a long time the Young Lions took a well deserved break at the beach – in sunny Hawaii!

At first it looked like we weren’t going to have any guests for the party so I ventured out with a couple of other volunteers to the tiny soi where most of the children live with their families. Eventually they arrived home from school – all on the back of the same motorbike - and were eager to come and join us!

We welcomed them the Hawaiian way with a garland of flowers (made for us by the parents) and a cheery “aloha”. Before long there was music in the air and plenty of balloons too!

We thought it would be fun to play some games and had a great “pass the beads” race (using only plastic spoons) before offering them a choice of activities. Some chose colouring, others painting but most headed straight for the beading table. Everyone was quickly engrossed and I was put to shame in my efforts by some very beautiful and skillfully made jewellery.    

I had also brought along my ukulele to add to the Hawaiian atmosphere and it proved to be very popular. I played a little, but it was much more enjoyable to see the kids having a go and having so much fun with it. Boy was particularly keen and I was able to show him a few notes. A very chilled out holiday :)



Young Lions Painting In The Snow

Last Wednesday our Young Lions took a trip up to chilly Russia! After exploring the palaces covered in snow and meeting some of the local people, we took them to see some of the works of Marc Chagall.

The kids were really impressed with the paintings we showed, marveling at the bright colours and all the different characters, animals and other abstract elements involved. We explained to them how paintings don’t have to just be a scene, but can be a whole story! 

Pbat then started telling one of our own...
Once upon a time there were two children, a brother and sister. Grandma was unwell so she sent them into town to buy her some medicine. On the way they grew hot and thirsty and decided to go into the forest to find a stream. After walking a while they still had not found the water and were soon completely lost! They decided to climb a tree to see if they could see the right way too go, but as they climbed they heard a strange noise growing louder and louder, nearer and nearer…What could it be?!

The children soon got to work painting their own versions of what might happen next, but we were soon told off by the youngest children who protested they could not possibly draw something made up! The older group on the on the other hand were soon immersed in the drawing and painting of their characters and very imaginative ones too. Even though there wasn’t enough time to finish painting, we had some of the group show and tell their stories to the group, which included characters ranging from pokemon to bicycle-riding space-chickens!


'Getting to Know You' at Healing Family Foundation

Hi again!

Yesterday we packed the minivan full of volunteers and drove a little out of the city to The Healing Family Foundation. This day centre was set up set up by a Japanese volunteer who wanted to provide a space for those with mental and physical disabilities to develop friendships, have fun together, and also to learn to weave beautiful fabric and other skills.

We were all a bit unsure how it would go since we have not worked with this group before, but it couldn’t have been a more successful and enjoyable afternoon. We arrived to a warm welcome from the members who were packing away their looms from the morning, and had great fun playing a name game and a ‘guess the action’ game. The favourite (and noisiest) game by far was when we had a race to see which of two teams could pass 10 coloured beads from one end of their line to the other using only plastic spoons!

It seemed everyone really enjoyed themselves, and by the end of the portrait painting session we realised how much we had underestimated both the ability and the creativity of the members there. One girl was so keen, that after finishing her own portrait Kilian and I were privileged to have her paint beautiful portraits of us too!

It was really fun getting to know the guys there, and when it was time to go they were sad that they didn’t have time to show us some of their dancing, (one of their favourite activities) so we will definitely be back in future!


A Hope Home First!

This week’s session at Hope Home was truly remarkable. Phil painted on his own for the first time.  After 10 weeks of being here, it was the most amazing thing I’ve seen. When we arrived, there was a physical therapist there working with him. They sat together on the floor - pushing his range of motion, stretching out his limbs. By the time we set up to paint his fists were no longer clenched, his arms more malleable. Should I have known then that this miracle would take place? For the next 30 minutes he ran the show – selecting his colors, rolling his paint, and making strokes with his own steady hand. Seeing this brought tears to my eyes and gave Phil a smile from ear to ear. All of us there could sense his pride. It was an accomplishment worthy of the world.


What Friends are For...

What a start to the week! Monday morning we visited the Wat Pa Pao school and worked with two groups of 5-10 year olds to make friendship globes. It's an idea that I took with me from the states - basically to show the kids how their individual efforts can come together to create a beautiful piece of art. Our teamwork theme was kicked off with a story. Pbut explained how all of us at ARI had "lost" our friendship globe, and needed their help to find it. 

Several students came up and leant me their strength to pull the globe out of a mystery box - the task was too strenuous for me to accomplish alone, but together we were able to uncover the missing masterpiece. With the globe revealed, Pbut explained the lesson and the children set off to work. Each colored a paper circle with their own representations of friendship...

Next it was time for the volunteers to assemble the globes (folding and gluing 20 circles together) and for the kids to play a game. With the focus again on working together, the children all held the edge of a giant piece of fabric, marked with numbers 1-10. A ball was dropped in, and the groups had to tilt the sheet so the ball would roll and hit each number. It’s a bit hard to describe in words, but the deafening laughter and cheers that filled the room made the game’s success unquestionable.
Last it was time to reveal the globes, and the cheers from the children just continued. As I walked around with the two finished pieces, each student perked up to see where their circle fit in – admiring their contribution and also the colorful complexity of their class’s creation. Now the globes hang in each classroom – giving the kids a daily reminder of the value of working together and serving as something great to look at!


Young Lions Make Djembe Drums!

Hi again,

So on Wednesday afternoons we have the Young Lions workshops at the office. These sessions are for children living in our local area, many of whom are from the hill tribes and have very few opportunities to take part in creative activities. Recently these kids have been touring the world where each week they 'travel' to a new country, having visas stamped in their passports when they arrive. This week we all headed to Guinea in West Africa to learn about the culture and make Djembe Drums!

Since this was the first week back after the Christmas break we weren't sure how many would turn up, but were pleased to have about ten children join us. Pbat introduced Guinea with a few greetings in French and Spanish, and showed some photos and maps on a slide show. Then it was time to make the drums - the little ones were really excited! We decided to split the kids into different age groups for the first time to allow the older ones to do something more detailed, with a more difficult stringing technique.

I was helping with this older group, and very soon we had the younger ones dancing around us banging on their drums! Sadly some of the younger kids had to leave early to go and sell flowers to help support their families. Those who stuck around until the end joined the team in learning an African dance. A fun end to the day, and some really impressive drums were made!



Stencil Paintings of the Night- Hope Home

The morning was long awaited for both the volunteers and the children.  Due to holiday schedules, we did not make it to Hope Home last week so this morning began with a lot of excitement.  Boonrot, Phil, Joy, Pancake and neighborhood friends greeted us as we piled out of the van.  Pancake came right to the door of the van to reunite with Kalila after two long weeks apart. 

    This being the first visit to Hope Home for some of us we started our visit by greeting the children. I finally met Boonrot after reading about all the great work he has done with past volutneers.  His smile is spectacularly warm and contagious too!

 After watching a short children's video on Pi Pbut's laptop we filed out of the room to begin our activity outside.  Pancake went for a stroll around the neighborhood while Joy, Boonrot and Phil explored the textures of different household items- a feather duster, sponge brush, steel wool, and plastic brush.  They then got the chance to experiment with these alternative painting tools.

I got the chance to paint with Boonrot who chose his pictures, colors and utensils using his eyes and that beautiful smile of his.  Purple, blue, yellow and gold paints were availble to choose from as well as a wide variety of painting utensils.  Boonrot really liked using the spongy/prickely brush to add blue to the paper.  While we slid the brush from left to right, Boonrot could not help but look over at Phil who was excitedly adding paint to his easel with his feet! The sound of plastic bristles against the paper brought Boonrot back to his own work where he finished with dabs of purple and blue using the sponge end.  It was exciting to reviel the two products they had created in the end- the top paper and the negative spaces filled on the paper beneth it resulted in two separate paintings- a product playing on the positive and negative space in a painting. 

Soon it was already time to clean up.  Boonrot and I tried on sunglasses and talked about our favorite colors.  I am eager to return to Hope Home and create even better projects.  Until then I have my eyes, ears, nose, tongue and hands open to any new ideas they can enjoy.


Print and Paint Pendants at Wildflower Home


My name is Rachel and I’m really excited to be volunteering with Art Relief for the next three months! I’ve recently finished my degree back home in England and thanks to the other volunteers and the team, I already feel right at home.

On Wednesday we headed over to Wildflower home where we were joined by six of the resident women. Before Christmas the art team had run a beading workshop which was received with much enthusiasm, so we decided to run a session where the women could learn how to make their own pendants by printing textured objects into clay.

One volunteer, Stacey, had sadly just finished her time with ARI, but since she was involved in the planning, she was able to run it and show us new volunteers how it was done. The women were very eager to start and had already cut and printed their shapes before Pbat had finished translating the instructions! They enjoyed choosing objects to print into the clay, and painting them with the acrylics. We had a number of new volunteers so we all got stuck in and had a go. 

The result was a beautiful variety of pendants, with the extra ones given as gifts for the other women who weren’t able to join us. It was fun to be able to help out, and speak a little Thai whilst passing paint tubes across the table. The workshop went well and at the end we were very excited to be able to meet two brand new residents to the home, a gorgeous baby boy and baby girl, born just the day before! A great introduction to Wildflower :)   


Happy New VolunTeer with Art Relief International

We began the new year creating clay pendants with the women at Wildflower Home.  So eager to begin the task, they could hardly wait through our example instructions.  At the end of what was my first workshop with Art Relief International, I was impressed at the beautiful assortment of shapes and color combinations gleaming in the afternoon light.
I am excited to volunteer at Cultural Canvas in Chiang Mai for the next month.  My focus is developing a curriculum for our weekly meetings at Hope Home.  Hope Home is a foster care program for children with developmental challenges.  I have yet to meet the little soldiers but I am eager to meet them and begin our sensory exploration together.  To young hearts and great arts!