Happy Holidays from ARI!

Hello friends and followers,

Last Friday was Art Relief International's last day in the office before the holidays. We will be on hiatus until the new year as our team scatters across the world to enjoy the season with family, friends, and beautiful Thai beaches!

As we head into the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your support. Without the support of past volunteers, friends, family, and the international community, ARI could not be what it is today. Your time spent with ARI, donations large and small, and kind words of support sent towards the work we are striving to do have all been met with such gratitude.
There are skeptics out there who choose to believe that 2012 will bring total world destruction. Perhaps I am simply an optimist, but I cannot believe this to be true. In fact, with your help, we are hoping to make 2012 our greatest year yet. We already have some amazing plans for January. We will be completing our mural at Hope Home, continuing our work with Young Lions, beginning weekly workshops again with Thai Freedom House (www.thaifreedomhouse.org), and partnering with Volunteer Positive (www.volunteerpositive.org) for a very special project. We will be welcoming new volunteers with open arms and, though we wish we need not, will be saying goodbye to others. Such is the nature of our work.

In Thailand you sometimes hear the expression jai yen yen. Loosely translated, this expression means cool heart. Rather than a year of destruction, I hope 2012 will be the year of jai yen yen. I hope that ARI can continue to better the lives of the marginalized throughout Northern Thailand and that we are joined by volunteers who arrive with willing hands and open hearts. I hope that the jai yen yen message will spread to world political leaders, who will remember those that ARI tries its hardest to help - refugees, the disabled, abandoned and otherwise marginalized.

In this season of giving, we again turn to you, our friends, to help Art Relief International continue the work that we are doing. We are raising funds for the purchase of materials that will help us bring smiles to the faces of under-served persons throughout Northern Thailand. With your help, we can continue to assist Boonrat, a child living with cerebral palsy who is improving his mobility with our weekly art sessions, and Sam, a child living in a local orphanage who always greets our volunteers with a hug and a huge grin. With your help, we will continue to spread laughter in our garden every Thursday with children like Valentine, a young migrant Burmese refugee, whose joy is more than contagious. We will continue to help these and other persons claim their artistic voices and develop both emotionally and physically, so long as we have the tools to do so. Please follow this link to donate to our cause. As always, any amount would be greatly appreciated.

All of us at Art Relief International wish you and yours the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons. See you in the New Year!

Happy Holidays!

the ARI/CCT Team

Young Lions Go Wild!

Hello from sunny Chiang Mai!

This week was our last workshop with Young Lions before our two week holiday break, so we decided to take a walk on the wild side! Young Lions with the help of our ARI team learned about the world's rainforests and the animals that live in them - parrots, elephants, monkeys and even squirrels! 

After learning all about the rainforests, we decided that we should create our own rainforest world. The Young Lions decorated and constructed puppets of rainforest animals.

Hard at work ...

... or hardly working?!
Valentine and Alena really learned to harness their wild sides! 

Cee and Rachel help our Young Lions construct their puppets!

Birds of a feather...
... flock together!

Beautiful smiles all around!

The workshop was a great success and the Young Lions were very happy with their new homemade toys!

Until next time,


Magic in the Air (...and on the wall...) at Hope Home

Greetings from colorful Chiang Mai!

We have a very special project going on at ARI recently. Our dear friends at Hope Home have an archway that they thought could use some beautification. They asked us to paint a mural - any mural we wanted to paint.

The archway at the left, with concrete bench below, pre-beautification
What should we paint?

What could we paint that would be splendid enough to suit the amazing residents of Hope Home? The concept for our mural is the result of a brainstorming session here at the ARI office. I took our collective ideas, and with some help from our artist friend Jude, created the design:

Pink elephants shooting rainbows out of their trunks...

                     ...and the rainbows turn into butterflies that fill the bright blue sky! 

                                             With bright green grass with flowers and bees underfoot!


It's still a work in progress, but so far, it's looking great! 

Day One:

From the left: Poni, Rachel, Alena, Jude, Dehlia

Our first-day progress

Day Two:

What are you doing, Cee? Oh, painting clouds!

...and painting Jude!

Our second day's progress

Day Three:

Jude, Alena, and Aimee work on grass, flowers, and bees
More green!

The finished green-green grassy bench!
Complete with rainbow detail and side panels

Our third day's progress

Music provided by Namchok!
We couldn't have done it without a little help from some friends along the way:

Hangin' with my homie.

We're adding a LOT of color to liven up the Hope Home space! We hope it brings them much joy in the years ahead, and brightens up the children's lives the way they've brightened up ours.

We will be working more in the coming weeks to finish the mural before the holidays. Looks like the folks at Hope Home are planning to celebrate...

Stay tuned to see our final piece in all its brightly-colored glory!

LOVE and rainbow magic,


Lanterns Light Up Wildflower Home

Hey all!
Today we finished off our lantern project with Wildflower Home. It was tons of fun and the women got super creative with decorating.
They began by punching holes in both sides of every sheet.
Then weaving them all together...

The girls with their finished lanterns!
Showing off their work proudly! Very well done everyone!


We're rollin' in the dough!

Hello everyone!

Our visit to Mitmuandek last week was especially playful!

We made some homemade play dough to bring over to our young friends for some fun creative play. I found a recipe online and mixed together flour, salt, water, and a little bit of oil into a nice, squishy dough. Then a few of us got to work in the kitchen, kneading in food coloring in each color of the rainbow. It was a recipe for fun!

Rainbow people!

Our little friends were very happy to see us when we arrived at their home.

Magali and Alena with a new friend

Gigi gets some love from Dehlia

Cee and another new friend

We started the workshop with some jolly music time. Everyone got to play different instruments.

My little drummer boy!
Dehlia and her friend shake, rattle & roll!

What's this thing? 

 After our musical interlude, we set out the dough. The hands-on fun began! 

Gigi explores the sensations of the dough...
...and gets some loving attention from the volunteers and staff.

Aah! There's a snake down there!

Some were more interested in interacting with the everyday objects...

...and they also loved to be entertained and showered with affection. 

Magali puts on a show that thrills our youngest audience

Love me!

Then it was time for clean up, a bit of rest...

...and BUBBLES!

What a wonderful day at Mitmuandek!

Sam is the star of the show!


- Poni