Monday, May 18, 2015

Message for Nepal

This is a video message from the Bhutanese refugee community in South Philadelphia who called Nepal home for over twenty years. They are concerned for their brothers and sisters who have been affected by the earthquakes. They are praying for the victims, survivors and families and for the rebuilding and restoration of Nepal. BuildaBridge assisted this community in creating artwork that illustrated their memories of Nepal, concerns for the earthquake victims and their hopes for the future of Nepal. Since many from this community are unable to travel to Nepal help, they created this video message as a gesture of their concern for and solidarity with those in Nepal.

The BuildaBridge-led workshops, artwork and video were made possible with support from:
The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program:  Southeast by Southeast
The Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative
The Department of Behavioral Health and DisAbility Services
Artists:  Jessica LaBarca, Julie Rosen, Stevie French & Natalie Hoffmann
Individual financial donors:  Kristen and Monica

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Nepal National Anthem

During the course of three workshops, BuildaBridge assisted this group of Bhutanese refugee adults create a visual representation of their memories, concerns and hopes for Nepal. During the close of each workshop, the group sang the Nepal national anthem featured here as a gesture of their solidarity and concern for Nepal. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Responding to the Earthquake in Nepal

“When I am dreaming, I dream about Nepal and I wish I could go to help them” said a Bhutanese refugee in response to the earthquake.

Bhutanese refugees in South Philadelphia, many of whom spent twenty years in refugee camps in Nepal, are responding to the earthquakes through the healing power of art-making. The group's goal: To create prayer flags and paintings illustrating their fond memories of Nepal and hopes for Nepal's recovery and rebuilding.
BuildaBridge International is assisting the group, many of whom contributed to the PPR mural, with creating artwork that reflects the group's responses to three prompts: Nepal as you remember it (stories and memories); Nepal today (concerned, imagined struggles Nepalis are currently facing); and Nepal in the future (hopes, and prayers for the rebuilding).  The art piece being created consists of four bamboo poles, seven feet high, that are linked together.  In each of the three sections are canvas paintings responding to the three prompts.  Adorning each section above and below the canvases are prayer flags - the community's hopes and prayers for Nepal. 

”We would like to help with our hands [In Nepal] and want to do something; though we can’t help with our hands, we are glad to fundraise by sending money and a message.”  One Bhutanese woman exclaimed. This group is eager to send money and help in whatever ways they can.

Though tangible relief efforts are not possible from Philadelphia, this group wants to at least send their thoughts, messages and prayers to those suffering in Nepal.  "We hope", said another Bhutanese, "that Nepal is rebuilt and constructed better then before." 

During the past week, the Bhutanese group was energetic, fully focused and engaged. They did not want to stop. In fact, they went 40 minutes over time -- twice.  Their artwork is bright, beautiful and hopeful with lots of trees and flowers. When asked if someone would like to lead a prayer for those in Nepal and this community suffering from afar to close class, they instead sang a song.  The group had a moment of silence and then almost all of them erupted into the song. This past Monday, our interpreter played the music for the Nepali anthem.  All twenty-one participants stood in a circle, hands clasped in a prayer stance at chest level, and sang along.  While there is much sadness and solidarity with those in Nepal, there is also hope as illustrated through this Bhutanese community's art and song.

In partnership with the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative, BuildaBridge is responding to the earthquakes by supporting and engaging the Bhutanese community in Philadelphia.