People May See In A Picture What They Do Not Hear In Words

Ukraine, Summer 2005
By G. Carson OM ArtsLink - Ukraine

The arts team arrived in Ukraine loaded down with art materials and inspirations, despite the many challenges they encountered in the beginning. Adding to the efforts of the OM Ukraine team serving long-term in the town of Rivne, the visiting ARTSLINK team hosted a photography workshop and executed two painting projects in the local community. OM Ukraine was pleased to see how the team's artistic talents added to their efforts by building upon connections and relationships they had already initated in recent years.

OM ArtsLink - Ukraine

The team's first week was spent at a local daycare center for physically and mentally disabled children, some of whom are distant victims of the Chernobyl disaster decades ago. The center's staff had requested the artists to create activity boards to stimulate and engage the children's senses. Based on the theme of the four seasons, the artists creatively pulled together a variety of resources to meet this particular request. Not only were the boards created to help develop and educate the children but also to create a more enticing interaction for those who spend hours everyday in difficult therapy.

OM ArtsLink - Ukraine

Midway through the first week, a local journalist showed up to interview the team and satisfy his own curiosity about the group of foreigners. He ran into the team when they had entered his paint store to purchase supplies. Curious as to why foreigners were in his shop searching for paint, he inquired of their purpose for being in Rivne. The artists shared their reason for coming to the country and their desire to serve the local people through their artistic talents. So interested in their project, he decided to catch up with them later at the daycare in order to see for himself the fruit of their labors and to write an article for a local newspaper about their unusual vision and task.

OM ArtsLink - Ukraine

After warming up their painting skills, the second week approached with a bigger feat; executing a wall mural for a local orphanage. Located in the infirmary of the institution, this wing was specifically designated for children brought in off the streets. Until these street kids are checked out by the doctor, they must stay separate from the rest of the orphans. Usually, treated more as an after-thought to society, the street kids were surprised to be visited by a group of foreigners. Half of the art team interacted with the street kids by drawing and painting with them, while the other half worked to change a white washed wall into a much needed splash of color. Fascinated, the children would watch the artists paint while they also worked on masterpieces of their own. It was obvious that the orphanage staff was being touched by their interaction with the art team as well. The team was amazed to watch the suspicious and distant attitudes of the staff members change and soften to more postive and responsive. The team was pleased to see how the Lord used the mural to change the atmosphere of the room from a place of isolation to a place of care and compassion. As Corene, one of the outreach participants realized herself:

" People may see in a picture what they do not hear in words."
OM ArtsLink - Ukraine

Another branch of the team's ministry was offering a photography workshop. Advertised by flyer distribution and word of mouth, the team was pleased to see people show up interested in learning. While a basic understanding of photography was being taught, relationships were also developing. The team's time in Rivne came to an end with a photography exhibition and reception which created an opportunity to mix and mingle further with people from the community.

OM Ukraine was encouraged to see how some of their relationships with the the locals had escalated through the work of the artists. They comunicated to the team their appreciation for their artistic efforts, saying that their service has helped to deepen relationships in a way that they never had expected.

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