A. – Guinea


A. – Guinea

Story 11

A., a 16-year-old boy and our youngest participant, is from Guinea. That’s all I knew about him before meeting him.


Session 1 – open studio / presentation of the workshops, setting of the frame and creations of collective mandalas (intention: explore individual and collective)

After the presentation of the workshop and the framework, A left claiming that he had a medical appointment, and he did not come back. When he left the center, I saw him smoking a cigarette, and I told him that next time, he should participate.

Session 2 – open studio / first name: creation from letters of his first name following various artistic proposals. Objective: to connect with one’s self, to understand that you have your own identity, and to develop or consolidate the image of one’s self.

As with most participants, I had a difficult time understanding the instructions and the meaning of the invitation. He first begins to draw a blue pen, a cigarette that will end up barring a school, an eraser, a girl and a globe. He works quickly. Following the instructions, with a pen, he puts his signature on the first page but it is hardly readable. He adds a pastel frame around the paper, and announces that he has finished, which he then proceeds to cover it up with a multitude of red lines.

His “signature” disappears under these red lines. I then invited him to. Continue and suggested that he write short sentences after ever letter of his name. He ended up leaving the workshop half an hour before the end so did not share his work with the group.

Section 3 – collective fresco from the initials. A. did not show up and I do not know the reason

Session 4 – creation of a clay house (safe place) + collective work: the village. Objective: to settle down, to reinforce the image of one’s self via the metaphor of the house, and to find my place in the group. I am surprised and happy to see that A was present and on time. He began by tattering at the beginning, but after a while he starts drawing a zodiac with oars. He is very engaged in his work! When I went to talk to him, he asked me what it meant to “feel”. He talks about his crossing aboard a zodiac, and that two people will die during the crossing, which is what he came to testify at the workshop.

While waiting for the others to finish, A asked me several times for clay, which he used to complete his zodiac of two people without legs, and one jumping overboard. Clay is a good medium for him, he is very invested and focused, and it helps him connect to difficult stages of his past and will help him express his emotions.

The second step of the workshop was to place their creation on a large sheet of paper. This is an important step. Then, with a bold pastel, I invited them to link all their creations together. They all begin to add their names, A signing his name very largely and clearly on the mural. Hypothesis: Is it the beginning of self-assertion, of his identity?

The creative journal: When A received his creative journal, he seemed very surprised to receive a picture of his first creation in it.

Session 5, 6 – Transformation of masks (clay, plaster and color) and 7 – Uprooting (bag). A was in Brussels the day that workshop 5 was announced, and did not show up to the 6th. On the day of the 7thmeeting, a member of Fedasil team told me that it had been several days since they had heard any news from him, and that he was not answering his cell.

The standing figure is supposed to represent a policeman with a “collar and a belt”, however, I did not understand what these meant to him. During the verbal exchange, he described his character as having an open attitude.

Way of transformation: the instructions were difficult for him to understand. His story talks about a departure for Brussels, where he meets other people who have also left their home. Thanks to the police, they are feeling safe. Title of his way: prehistory, because it happened in the past. He works quickly, after drawing his path, he told me that he had a headache and that it was perhaps due to Ramadan which had just started, but despite that he stayed until the end of the workshop.

Session 9 – Composing a mandala in four sections: 1) Present, 2) Past, 3) Future (project, pleasure, ect), 4) What I miss: The transition to this state. Objective:To clarify one’s intentions with a view to (re) moving – to give perspective.

A came close to me to give me verbal feedback because he did not want to share it with the whole group. Present:today I feel very tired because I have a headache. Past:4 images: 1) a village on fire; he fled the war in his country. 2) a man on a bike: his father had the same bike identically. 3) a pregnant woman in the water, evokes the floods in his country? 4) Reminds him of how he fled his country. Future:to have money, a house and a car. He would also like to play golf. I am able to see similarities between this picture and the picture of the two children in part 1 because for both, there are two people, one dressed in red and one in blue, children in the first and adults in the future.

In the third part, I saw him tear up an image that represented people in an African Village. For the fourth part, he had seemed to misunderstand what he was supposed to do, so another member of the group translated into Guinean.

Hypothesis:does this mean that he will never return to Africa? Is it a “tear” that will continue into the future? Transition: find a training that will achieve this. He finds non-illusory and very realistic tracks to project in the future. I congratulated him for this and this discovery allowed me to make a connection with his clay character (session 8).

Visual Journal:A came with his creative journal and received the photos of these previous creations, I am not sure if he’s working outside but he seems to care about this journal which could explain one of the reasons why (links) he comes to the workshops.

Session 10, 11 – he did not show up to these sessions and did not give a reason as to why.

Session 12 – Goodbye – given and received. Two creations around the tree and its fruits – create a fruit (representing what the participant gave to the group), create a second fruit (what he received from the group). Objective: take time to say goodbye and leave a last message.

A is not feeling well again today and explains that he is suffering from a headache, which happens quite frequently.

The nurse at the center who follows the project says that it is a very common disorder among refugees. Can we relate this symptom to the many traumas he has experienced, I think the answer is yes.

The first fruit:what I received: he created a “face" which for him looks like his neighbor on the right. Perhaps he found a “luminous" and supportive presence with him.

2nd fruit:What I gave, he creates a “dumbbell", one that looks like the one another friend uses in the center. Can we see through it a symbol of balance but also of strength? I believe the way he connected them and hung them together at the top of the tree could indicate this. He then told me that he hoped I would come back to the center.


As the workshops progressed, I saw A. becoming more focused and engaged in his creations. At the beginning, he would finish quicker than the others and sometimes even left the workshop before the end of the session. I have observed these changes especially with the work on the zodiac and the mandala in 4 sections.

I have already read on the website that one of the strengths of Red Pencil’s missions around the world is to allow participants to be more autonomous in their creative efforts when the sessions are over. It was the first time in my career that I suggested the “creative journal" . This was more than enjoyable.

At the last workshop A. appreciated receiving a sheet suggesting three exercises to do autonomously in the journal. 1) tracks to explore nightmares, 2) what I have in my head, 3) exercise of the day on “give and receive" that they can apply to good or bad people they met on where they grew up.

All this in order to help them to appease the psychological conflicts that are present among many of them after the multiple traumas they had. These three exercises will perhaps contribute to appease the recurring headaches of A.

It would be interesting to know whether A. will continue to use his creative journal in the future…