African Lady

African woman2

My thirteen year old son will be going on a weeklong school trip.  At the information meeting this week, teachers were soothing parents’ concerns about safety and assuring us all that they were well organized to handle the 320 students they will be taking to a remote island in Indonesia.

Our children go to an impressive international school.  It is one of the reasons we said yes to this Singapore experience.  The blessing and the curse of this environment is that there is a lot of money.  I say curse because there is a very different view on life when having an iPhone is the norm for every child, parents drive expensive Italian sports cars and mothers run daily errands in world famous designer wear.  Most families have live in help and quite a lot of them have a driver that comes to pick the children up after school.  Just to clarify, this is not a description of our family.  Like many of the parents here we could never have sent our children to this school on our own, we count ourselves very blessed and don’t really think about it much until someone does something or makes a remark that reminds us that we are among the very affluent.

At the meeting this week, parents were asking the usual questions like, “How can we contact you in case of an emergency?” and “Are phones allowed?”.  One mother asked an unusual question, she asked, “Will my child be required to make their own bed?”.  At first I thought I must have misunderstood, but then I realized that she was completely serious and that this was a real concern for her.  She was concerned that her child may be faced with the dilemma of making a bed on arrival.

My head is still full of images of South African people.  We went on several long road trips while we were there.  Next to the road you regularly find little settlements of people.  Their houses are made from corrugated iron and whatever other building material they can find, or poach.  There is no plumbing and often the source for running water is shared by many.  To my joy and fascination, these neighborhoods almost always looked tidy and well organized.  The people don’t just make their beds in the morning, before they have a place to sleep they sometimes MAKE their beds and MAKE their houses. Their homes may be made from someone else’s rejected materials, but they take the time to paint them not just any color, but beautiful bright colors and sometimes you would see pretty curtains hanging in the small windows.  I admired their creativity and the effort they put into making those shacks home.

I marvel at the differences found amongst the many humans that populate this planet.  I wish I could get a closer look at all their lives so I can learn from their folly but also celebrate their beauty.

I returned from my parent meeting, sat at my drawing desk, picked up one of my beloved pens and celebrated some of the beauty.

My African lady was done on Bristol paper in Prismacolor pens and markers and the background in watercolor.

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