Saturday, January 30, 2010

Return to Bhairahawa

The mosaics are created on mesh and then cemented to the wall before being grouted. The wall is scored and sanded and then adhered to the wall with the perfect mix of concrete and sand. Here, UK artist Mark Wood works with concrete expert Tule and three of the deaf artists (R-L starting beneath Mark's arm) Ganesh, Shiva and Prakash.
Bhairahawa has a large school for the deaf (which is supported by Ester Benjamins Trust that I'm volunteering for). This year our mosaic artists created panels featuring animals of Nepal and installed them on the walls between the classrooms in the new addition to the school. These are two of the kids being amazed and delighted by the new installation.
Tiger the dog won a place in our hearts and the mosaic wall by surviving a very traumatic puppyhood. I ended up as Tiger's surrogate mother last year when another volunteer brought home the tiny mangy puppy that local kids had been using as a football. We thought she'd live a day or two at most, but she made it through MANY brushes with death and is now a healthy big dog with a permanent home at the workshop.
This is one of the mosaics of Bhairahawa scenes that adorn the front wall of our compound. It was created by the deaf artists and rescued circus girls under the direction of UK artist Mark Wood. The creations have made our "kids" superstars around the town (instead of looked down upon). the townspeople stop and admire their work every day as they walk by.

This is another panel in front of the workshop. We are trying to turn the grounds into a Mosaic Garden for weddings, workshops and other events. It would be beautiful if all of the wall could be decorated with Bhairahawa mosaics. Funding is the problem, though, so if anyone would like to sponsor a panel, let me or Ester Benjamins Trust know! (I'm sure you'll even get a plaque next to it!!)

Post 3 -- Friday, January 22, 2010

Coming back to Bhairahawa and the mosaic workshop is like coming to a completely new place but with many of the same faces and fixtures and much is different -- no English classroom, no Iris Folding, no daily soccer matches, regular picnics or dances. Nine of the girls and two of the boys are gone and, or course, all of the volunteers are different with the exception of Hazel and me. And since I’m only here for three weeks instead of five months, it doesn’t seem right to inject myself into the newly established setup. Hazel will be the one who turns the workshop over to the new volunteer who is coming a couple weeks after the current volunteer, Mark Wood, leaves... so she has the responsibility of getting up to speed on the current direction of the workshop. (For those who are unfamiliar with this place... it's a mosaic workshop for deaf young adults and “circus girls” -- girls rescued from abusive Indian circuses--run by Esther Benjamins Trust out of the UK... terrific group...check them out if you’re interested in supporting a good cause or volunteering in Nepal)

Instead of the small mosaics that could be sold to tourists to carry home (that we were focusing on last year), the mosaics workshop is cranking out large-scale murals to install here at the campus and at the nearby deaf school -- beautiful scenes of local life... the momo man, bicycle rickshaws, women dressed in colorful saris, men squatting around fires having a chat. The deaf school murals feature animals of Nepal -- tigers, water buffalo, long-horned sheep and strange armadillo-like creatures. I just love them! However, unless we obtain funding to continue with these, we probably won’t be able to continue with them...

The latest plan is to turn our yard into a sort of mosaic garden where weddings, workshops, and other gatherings can hold receptions. Our leader, Philip Holmes, wants me to draw up a blueprint of the property with plans for the garden, which I’m happy to do IF we can find some basic drafting supplies here in Bhairahawa (large paper, t-square, triangle, architect’s scale, etc)... we’ll see.

I’m planning to travel to one of the other refuges in Hetauda with two volunteers (Hazel, who I worked with last year) and Daphne (a volunteer from Ireland) on Tuesday to scope out the place. Daphne, Hazel and Sue Thornton (who I also volunteered with last year) are going to be there for a couple months so we thought it would be good to check it out and see who is there, what ages they are, what types of things will be most beneficial for them, etc.

Meanwhile, it is FREEZING here... damp, foggy and COLD!!! Clothes take DAYS to dry and I had to wash my long underwear and jeans today (they were getting MUCH too disgusting!) so I’m shivering through the day looking forward to bedtime and my warm covers!

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