My big project, Finishing the Ward 4 AMICAALL/Nhlangano Town Council Social Center, the PCPP


Peace Corps Partnership Proposal (PCPP) with the Nhlangano Town Council (NTC)

First application draft submitted Feb, 2011
Approved & Funding Begins on PC website May 17th
Construction started on Oct 24th.
All exterior construction done by Dec 20th.
Grand Opening Jan 5th, 2012
Round 2 of the Funding arrives in early January.
Interior Only Construction Restarts Jan 16th.
Construction all done Feb 16th (minus a million tiny To Do's)
Project Officially Closed May 4th, 2012

Let the children play, learn & be safe.

As of Aug 25th, 2012, I am no longer a PCV, I am now RPCV (Return Peace Corps Volunteer). This blog is my experience in Swaziland between June of 2010 & Aug of 2012. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Social Center Part 20 (Starting the Artwork)

Meet Joesph.

He is the artist that I found at the Yebo Art Gallery in the Ezulweni Valley. Now so far every single person that has worked on the Social Center has been literally from the neighborhood I live in and almost all of the supplies have been from Nhlangano.

And Joseph Mushipi is the exception:

He is from Zambia and has been living in Swaziland for 2 years and has been painting the exterior of buildings. When I meet him he showed me several pieces of his building work and he was hired on the spot. After several design changes we worked out this concept. On the Left side of the front is a Mother and Child outside of tradition Swaziland hut. The Mother is grooming the child. Then to the right is a school building with children outside in graduation uniforms. Then in the middle of the front right where an exterior light will keep the grounds lit up at night with motion sensor will be a sun. Then to right of the Sun will be a variety of African animals, a rhino, antelope, Zebra, Turtle with a frog on its back (the building is for kids) and the greatest feature of the artwork will be a large Giraffe that fills the space on the right side of the building in a vertical style, where as everything else is horizontal.

In his first day, he got about 90% of the mother/child one done. I am only going to give you all some teases of the artwork until its completed.

Because there is other news happening as Joseph works.

The building became Orange and now everyone in neighborhood has taken notice of the work.

That is Senzo hanging off the building getting the tough upper parts that the rollers couldn't. To the right is the view of the building as you first see it from the street.

And unfortunately I never thought to take a picture from this angle. But it is striking difference to see that orange when before it was just concrete surrounded by trees (unfortunately that big tree has to go also) and was super easy to miss it.

And speaking of art. Swaziland as a country seems to be lacking disparately in it. I tried to find local artists but the art they turned into me was literally traced from a children's book. Pathetic is what it was. Which is why I went to the one of the only a few art galleries in the country and of course ended up with a Zambian artist. Anyway, I am sure there are Swazi artists are out there, I just wasn't able to find them. And because Nhlangano very much lacks any art at all, I have been on a mission to bring that to my neighborhood and to this city. And to see people's reactions was just awesome.

Most of these blog posts are just updates with my excitement, I generally dont get to emotional. But here is a moment I will remember the rest of my life.

So the welder who has been awesome, hard working and a great guy (he created the kitchen windows, fixed the swing sets and today was installing the burglar doors). So he was looking at Joseph mix the paint (see the picture above where he is surrounded by cans) and asked why we had so many colors including the blue paint (by the way these are oil paints, expensive, worth every penny (Yes, US pennies are paying for it) and will last a very long time, the weather is unlikely to win the battle against Joseph's art). I told him he was mixing the paint to make different colors and turned around and pointed at the then completely white wall with only pencil sketch of the mother/child. The welder just looked up at the building and said to me "That is going to be great". Then as Joseph worked I saw the welder stopping and watching the art progress. He really was honestly amazed at the art and he smiled every time. I don't know why it effected me so much at the time. But later I figured it out. In that moment when he was looking at the white wall and then later as he saw the art being created he was moved.

That is the power of art in our world.

Art just makes people smile and fills them with a sense of something beyond themselves. It is way, we humans have been doing it since the beginning of our time on this planet. It is such a part of us and it is amazing when something jumps off the wall grabs us. People who try to suppress, discourage or even limit funding of art & artist need to be put in an isolation cell and taken out shown Monet's hay stakes as the first thing they see after deprived of everything. Cause I guarantee they would be moved. Art has a power to open people up. And the people afraid of being open are the ones who generally restrict art. Anyway, today and for the foreseeable future art will be winning over here in Nhlangano.

And people are all ready a starting to stop by to see Joseph work and his artwork. And Joseph has already gotten a potential another job from someone who wants a waterfall in there home.

I know personally how looking at some of the most famous art in the world in the most famous art museums in the world in person, how it effects me. But to see it effect someone else. Oh, man did that move me.


  1. Just wonderful ... how I enjoyed your musings on art ... as for those who want to cut funding, you're right; put 'em in a cell for awhile, and when they're let out, let Monet's Haystacks be the first thing they see - would change their lives. Great writing ... just wonderful ... can hardly wait to see it, and we'll be there soon!

  2. Ghee - windows, doors, paint, now artwork. Soon the only thing left needed to do will be to get kids to come in for their classes. :) Hopefully this will inspire the city council to do some work on the other centers if they need it too.