Aramatou has created 821 pieces of artwork since arriving at CURE Niger 15 months ago. She is from Mali and came to the hospital in August 2013 with legs bowed and feet turned completely backward. When she arrived, Aramatou was solemn and withdrawn. She has been through a lot in life, and it was clear that she needed healing that went beyond surgery on her legs.
In the past 15 months, everything about Aramatou has turned around. After several surgeries and a lot of physical therapy, her legs have been straightened and her feet are facing the right direction. Though she still has a long way to go in the healing process, she has already come so far. Aside from the physical transformation, her spirit has changed as well. She is no longer solemn or withdrawn – she is the life of the party! Aramatou is so full of joy that it permeates the hospital. It is hard not to smile when you’re around her.
Aramatou has been coming to art therapy sessions since day one, and from the beginning she has been making beautiful drawings. She draws very interesting flowers with intricate motifs and designs. Today we sat down and counted – she has done 821 drawings. That is a lot, but the real number is probably higher since she has given away drawings to staff, visitors, and other patients.
Aramatou doesn’t have any money, and obviously cannot buy presents for anyone, but she regularly gives away drawings. She is proud of her work, and enjoys giving it away. Even with all she has given away, she still has 821 remaining. She said she wants to reach at least 1,000 before she returns to Mali. She plans to take her artwork back with her when she is done here so she can decorate her whole house with it. Her artwork has been an important part of her stay here in Niger and she wants to show her family and friends back in Mali the work she did during her long stay in the hospital.
We decided to lay all of her work on the ground so that we could see it all at once. It took us over an hour just to spread it all out. When we first started lining up the drawings, I thought, “Uh oh… we’re going to be here all day.” But I’m so glad we did it.
Aramatou was so excited to see her work laid out in that way; it was visually striking. She kept saying, “I can’t believe I did all this.” It was a powerful image, not just of the fact that she made some pretty pictures, but of all she has accomplished. She has changed, grown, and blossomed, just like the flowers that she loves to draw. Her art has given her confidence a boost and she now knows that she is capable of so much. Aramatou will leave CURE Niger with new, beautiful legs as well as a whole stack of beautiful drawings.
Originally published at http://joshjulieblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/821-drawings/