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.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Art Classes & Painting Part 1

So since the beginning of March I have been basically been doing 2 things (other than hanging around waiting for my service to end in August).

These 2 things are:

#1 Closing the Social Center's paperwork. (See the previous entry for the pictures). Since it was such a big project with literally hundreds of receipts it took several weeks for the PC to close out the project. (Partially the long delay was due to holidays both in Swaziland & the US ones the PC office closes and several of the staff that need to approve took there holidays) But it was mostly due the size. So that closed right around the end of April.

#2 The next project.
The idea: There are 2 Social Centers left here that both need a paint job. These Center's are finished & functioning, so the major construction of the previous Center is not necessary. So I came up with the plan of mixing in several different methods of instruction to clean up the Centers. A full blown free art class where the students learn real art & learn how to paint a building just normal which are both skills that can be used to make money. Also, we will be doing HIV sessions to educate the students. The age range is 15 & up with the hope of adults who want to improve. We will also be doing a class session on how to make money using found materials (ie trash or the plastic bottle in the gutter). But one must have a general understanding of creating art, whether it be painting, drawing or abstract, it still has to have some kind of structure. So the project will be bringing back the artist Joseph Mushipi, who did the wonderful artwork on the Social Center. As well as we will be working with the Yebo Art Gallery to help promote art here in Swaziland.

So Part 1 of who knows how many to come.

Some personal comments about art:
When I first arrive in Nhlangano in August of 2010, I noticed that the town which is growing fast had no artwork anywhere, in fact most of the town stores signs where dirty & old the only real bright color in town is the KFC signs. So when I was evaluating the options for things I could accomplish, putting up art on walls was high on the priority list for me. In my opinion, Swaziland doesn't have a terribly creative culture, sure there are artists working making tourist items, but when you walk around the markets most of the artistic stuff comes Mozambique or South Africa. Several Peace Corps Volunteers have started craft groups which make all kinds of things that are then sold, some even on the internet, So its not that Swazi's can't be creative, of course they can, it is just not something valued in this culture. In fact, keeping everything the same is a big value with the older people here and I have seen (my soccer coaching is an example of) how things get sabotaged to keep them the same or even from succeeding. Art is a very decisive issue because generally artists push boundaries. It is just kind of the general nature of art. Especially when telling a story (ie books, movies, TV, non-abstract art). A very interesting reaction has happened to the pre-school that is now operating in the finished Social Center, the enrollment shot up so much they had to decline students or send them to other Centers. A common phrase I heard in several variations was that the parents wanted there kids going to school in the beautiful Social Center, even wanted their child there because of the artwork. Certainly, if the Center didn't have the mural it would not have gotten the attention that it gets now.

So for this project, I am hoping to add more art to the city of Nhlangano. And maybe, just maybe, some child in the future will be inspired to draw and maybe, just maybe, they will find a way to turn it into a career.

At the least, the artwork will turn a run down looking building into something beautiful & prove to a culture that doesn't value art. That art is actually some very valuable & the artists that do this work are also valuable & deserve to be encouraged & supported.

More to come as this project heats up, including details of the process, some history and the work it will take (plus pictures) So enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea. I'll be reading about the further progress of the art classes and art work around town.