The Joy of Music

Hi there! My name is Priscilla, a 22-year-old graduate from the Netherlands. Graduated in International Relations, Human Rights, and Development Studies, I decided it is time to travel the world. Being half Dominican, but growing up in the country of cheese, windmills, clogs, and tulips, my time in Asia will be refreshing. Today I started with ARI, going to Hope Home where we gave a workshop to children with disabilities.

Today's workshop revolved around music and enhancing the kids' physical activity through the use of music instruments. I worked with Boonrot, an amazing child who loves drums and singing. We had made Boonrot a drum he could paint on so he would make a sound while painting, which he absolutely loved! Together with Anika, we started singing with him and he even got to play the tambourine. The garden at Hope Home was filled with different sounds coming from different instruments, together with the sounds of laughter. Not only the kids enjoyed the workshop, so did our volunteers.

Aimee and Brittany were running around with Namchok: he had been playing so much with them that, when the time came to eat his lunch, he fell asleep with food still in his mouth! Joy tapped her own face on camera, which made her light up her eyes, whereas Phil was busy swirling around pois - a traditional Australian instrument made by Denise, one of ARI's kiwi volunteers - with his feet. It was amazing to see how much joy such simple things can bring to them.

Today's workshop was tough and heartwarming at the same time. Knowing that these kids are treated differently within Thai society and yet seeing how loving they are is difficult. For me, a person who is not used to being around children with disabilities, it was so heartwarming to see how much joy our workshop brought to them. I am excited to go next week, while in the meantime helping other groups with our art projects!

Sending my love around the world,


Chok Dee from Chiang Mai

Most Thais believe that amulets - those small lucky charms that come in a variety of shapes - have great spiritual value. 

So, this week we decided to create and decorate our own charm necklaces to wear. We created templates for the kids to use as a base to work from. There was an elephant and lotus flowers, both are considered symbols of luck in Thai culture. Then for good measure we added a butterfly and an angry bird - because somehow Thai kids cannot get enough of this character and symbols of flight represent hope around the world. 

The kids kept trickling in and by the end of the session we had quite a few! I think this is the start of quite a good after school group. Glitter was also a HUGE hit this week. Almost every child used it and we left a trail of it everywhere.  A little extra luck never hurt anyone ;)

Chok dee!
(That's good luck in Thai!)
- Anika

BEAM River of Life

Hi.  My name is Denise and I am from New Zealand but currently living in Perth, Australia.  I work full time as a Youth Custodial Officer whilst studying towards a career in transpersonal art therapy.   Cultural Canvas Thailand's Art Relief International placement allows that I can complete a practicum, explore a different country and culture, as well as fulfill my need to volunteer and give to others.

On Friday I got to visit BEAM Education Foundation - a school for Burmese migrants.  This group of young students were an absolute delight - very polite, courteous, enthusiastic and motivated individuals.  The activity was based on the concept of a 'river of life' and the use of metaphors.  They could include things like rocks to indicate a bumpy time in their life, waterfalls, murky waters, or rapids etc.  It was really interesting watching the team dynamics and the way they worked together and came up with their plan.

During the feedback time one of the older boys explained that they all come from different backgrounds but they have all joined the BEAM river for this part of their journey. As you can see below, their collective piece reflected this beautiful idea.     


Thai Culture Meets Native American

Heading into the new premises of Thai Freedom House, we were greeted with smiles and the sound of guitars. Once all the kids had arrived, we played a game of "Chilli Chilli" before getting stuck into the activity. Previously, the children at Thai Freedom House were learning how to sew and bead, so our activity this brought together all of those skills. Each kid was to sew and adorn a Native American-style clutch bag, which we had pre-cut templates and a variety of different coloured beads for. It was really interesting to introduce the children of Thai Freedom House, most of whom identify as Shan, to another minority ethnic group

The students seemed to really enjoy themselves and I was extremely impressed with their sewing and beading skills, they certainly taught me a thing or two!

Watching as Aon completes her beautiful purse...

Ending the day with this workshop was a great finish, you could see how proud each child was with what they had created and that they had a good time in doing so.

So grateful to be a part of something this amazing.

- Amber.


Walls of Art

The ARI team spent the afternoon at School for Life where we hung out with the school children. Here we made beaded necklaces, coloured and - most fun of all - painted a huge mural for the entrance to their school.
Some of the girls working on their necklaces.
Although the mural was a simple design, it was filled with lots of bright colours and character.
Four students working on the mural.
It was a perfect day to be outside, especially as we were able to work with children so full of energy, appreciation and enthusiasm.
The ARI team at School for Life.
As today is my last day volunteering for ARI, this will be my last blog. I have had such a great time being here, but I am also excited for my next adventure!
Love from Thailand,
x x x Christine


Nature of Therapy

Hi, my name is Amber and I'm a 28-year-old Kiwi who is studying Art Therapy in Australia. I had been wanting to volunteer with ARI for quite sometime, and now finally I have my chance.

Today was only my second day, and what a day it was! I worked with a young girl named Joy, who has cerebral palsy, a beautiful smile which lit up her entire face, and a musical paintbrush! A set of instruments had been strung up for her to reach out to and play with - encouraging the stretching out of her arms and the opening and closing of hands - and this she seemed to really enjoy. We also painted leaves, using her paintbrush with a bell attached to it which she really responded to. Those leaves were then attached to a tree by Phil, another Hope Home resident who used his feet because the muscles in his hands are so tight. This worked really well and I enjoyed seeing the two individual sessions merge together.

Looking around, I could see the mixture of art therapy, music therapy, and play therapy that the kids around us were involved in, it was amazing to witness. I could also see the liveliness and enjoyment etched on their faces from the one on one interaction they were receiving from the other volunteers.

I get a big smile from Joy while playing with her bells.

Overall, extremely rewarding to both witness and to be a part of. I look forward to tomorrow and the experiences it will bring.

- Amber

Time for Change

It was early evening when we arrived at MPlus+. Here, we were greeted by a room of cheerful individuals who were happy that we had come to visit. The next two hours were spent chatting and laughing while we all wrote letters to ourselves filled with hopes, dreams and goals for the future.

These letters were then illustrated by hand-decorated puzzle pieces which linked each member of MPlus+ to the greater community.

Everyone deep in thought as they write letters to themselves.

The idea for the session was to spend some time in self reflection before burying our thoughts in a time capsule to be opened in a year from now. This was an important exercise for all of us - both ARI team members and MPlus+ participants. For many of us, life is currently uprooted - we are spending time away from families and friends, figuring out what comes next. This was especially true for the members of MPlus+, many of whom are transgender and may be in the process of transitioning. One year may bring major changes in their lives both physically and mentally. 

Everyone loved the activity, excited by the chance to dream for an even better year to come.

Love from Thailand,

x x x Christine



Halloween is a favorite holiday for our Art Relief crew - so this week the focus was all about making costumes, learning about and celebrating the spooky holiday. Our project with both our 'Young Lions' programs was to make superhero capes! We showed them an example and watched as their eyes glowed with excitement. Who doesn't want to dream of themselves with a super power? As you might imagine this was a huge hit.

 After the capes were made (and, of course, worn) we taught them how to trick-or-treat. They got the hang of it really quickly. Our newest Young Lions group at the ARI headquarters on Tanon Sarm Larn ran around knocking on our office windows to ask for candy. But watching Original Young Lions of the Suan Dok neighborhood ride on the back of their parents motorbikes with capes flying through  the air behind that was a real highlight!

It's pretty hard to tell who had more fun - us or them!
Another Successful Lesson!



Hope Home Celebrates Halloween

Despite rain clouds filling the sky, our weekly visit to Hope Home was as successful as always. This week, in celebration of Halloween, we thought it would be fun for the residents to design masks using paints and decorations.

Each child was given a mask base and a paintbrush but, it wasn't long before Namchok had dipped his hands in the paint and Paradon was painting my pants!

Paradon working on his mask.

After everyone had finished their masks we had a fun time playing dress up before helping out with lunch.

Boonrot playing dress up.

It is sad to think that next Wednesday will be my last visit to Hope Home.

Love from Thailand,

x x x Christine