In 1997 I had the privilege of travelling to Tanzania on a trip organised by Church Mission Society to work in a school in a village called Mvumi. The experience was profoundly moving and inspiring. The memories have stayed with me and in 2006 I visited that same village to sit and share again with the people. Their love, freedom and joy, even in the most harsh of circumstances instilled in me a powerful sense of the love and humility of Christ. I have much to thank them for and much I wish to express through my art in response; to portray that same freedom, faith and love so tangibly conveyed in the people.
When visiting Tanzania, the children always have a profound impression on me; their bright expressive faces, their love, their need for love, their poverty, their singing and their sense of joy and mischief. Their lives speak so much to me and will be an ongoing focus in my art.
My sketches were worked up from life under the shelter of a large baobab tree. Each day I would go and sit under this tree and wait as kids emerged tentatively from every corner of the village. As the days past our friendships grew; a precious time indeed, playing football, climbing trees and drawing. They are kids who have nothing, who play in the dust; kids full of life but threatened by life.
The witness of the spirit of these children humbled me beyond measure; at times reduced me to tears.
The charity ‘Compassion’ are doing some tremendous work in Mvumi through their ‘Sponsor a Child’ scheme. I had the privilege of visiting one of their projects to set up a kindergarten in the village. I can only marvel at their life giving work for these children.