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Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Caroline Luka

Working with a partner organization can not only keep you busy but also help you gain more skills. A lot of things happen at Home of Hope orphanage that my site-mate, Twambi, and I work on. The one thing that caught my attention was the coming of John Platt. He came to start an art program with the kids at the orphanage. I am not an artist, but I have always wanted to learn how to draw. So, I grabbed the opportunity by the neck and offered to help facilitate his lessons through Chichewa translations.

John Platt is an artist (painting) by profession and the founder of the organization called How to Draw a Lion. The organization is focused on an art education program that is designed for under-resourced children. The program offers art lessons as well as provides funding. You might wonder how the funding comes about but not to worry this is my favorite of the program. When the kids draw and paint, John takes the paintings and sales them. The money is therefore sent back to where the kids are based to help provide for their needs. Amazing, right?! “The kids are able to create a painting that they can be proud of and later get returns for their hard work. In a way, it teaches them a sense of independence,” said John with a huge smile on his face. “It’s strictly about the kids showcasing their talent,” he added.

Two weeks has passed since the program started an I must say the kid’s art has become a phenomenon. I asked the kids how they feel about it and here are some of the comments that I got:

My drawings have improved, and I have learned how to pay attention to details when painting”, said Lerato

Even though some of my friends quit, I still attend the lessons because things like this don’t happen every day. Ndichamtengo wapatali (meaning, it is quite precious)”, said Clifford.

Hezekiah concluded that, “Someday I will turn art into a business and sell my drawings.

Working with these kids has been so much fun and John has really inspired us all. Personally, I think turning your passion into something decent like this can make you sleep with a smile on your face every day. Besides painting on paper, John and the team have also painted murals around the campus. I know right! These kids are going places. If they put their mind and brushes to use I am pretty sure something beautiful will come out of this experience.

I for one have been inspired and motivated. You don’t need to be excellent in your drawings to pursue art, all you need is passion and drive. Take it from someone who couldn’t even draw a butterfly in school but managed to draw and paint a zebra.

To see more paintings, visit @howtodrawalion on Instagram and see more on what the kids have been up to!


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