by Bethany, Children at Risk DTS student
I was full of questions when I walked into the Women at Risk home. Full of fears that what I was about to do would be so insignificant compared with what these women had been rescued from. How would these women, who had just been brought off the streets and out of prostitution, respond to five white girls with some crayons? I doubted they would accept us and feared that their past would shut them off from me.
My fears were confirmed when we got there. I looked around at the room of 16- to 30-year-old women, and all I could see in the eyes that met mine was coldness and judgment. My friends and I put aside our fears as best as we could, and started our program. But I just knew this was going to be bad.
I sat next to one of the women, Hanna. She drew a house and some bushes on her paper–not what we were trying to do at all. I was so frustrated. They didn't get it! They were supposed to write their names and decorate them, not draw houses!
Then for some reason, I turned my page over and started to draw a house just like Hanna's. She looked over and smiled. Then I watched as she drew a person and messed up. Laughing, she tried to erase it with her finger. I couldn't help but laugh with her at her silly expression. She grinned at me and showed me her deformed stick person, and then we were both laughing out loud together.
I decided to show her how I would draw a stick person and she copied my every stroke. I smiled and told her that she did a good job.
Then I looked around me with a completely different outlook. I was shocked at what I saw when I really opened my heart AND my eyes.
Sitting around me on all sides were ex-prostitutes, smiling and laughing and having a great time coloring with the crayons and markers that I had deemed too childish. These women had their childhoods stolen from them and now they were just enjoying being free. They were learning to do things as adults that they hadn't been able to do as kids.
When they took glue and glitter to their pages, they transformed them from stick figures to pieces of beauty.
Just as their drawing gave them a chance to be free and laugh with abandon, the glitter showed how their bare childhood was being changed into a thing of beauty. The lives of these women now held sparkle and hope that they could only have dreamed of before coming to Women At Risk!
Thank you, Art for the Nations, for donating craft supplies for all our outreaches!