The women who saw hope
Uganda has a long history of political instability, as well as health and poverty issues. A recent World Bank report on poverty assessment in Uganda (2016) has noted that the number of people living below poverty line has declined from 31.1% in 2006 to 19.7% in 2013. Uganda has been commended for the progress it has made in gaining political stability and focusing on poverty eradication. However, as the World Bank report states, the country is yet to make marked progress in areas of sanitation, child malnutrition, education (completion and progression) and access to electricity.
In step one the women's art pieces demonstrate exploration of colour and form (Images 1 to 5 below). In some pieces, one can see a sort of primitive use of shapes and colours. Many women had never used a pencil before doing these art pieces, and showed courage for their willingness to use new and foreign materials every day. They made sure to take good care of every art creation.
In step 2 art we can see the interplay between individual art and group pieces (Images 6 to 12 below) . The women became more confident and trustworthy towards their creative and artistic abilities. They also become more confident in speaking in front of one another.
The images become more and more unique as each woman begins to figure out her style and sense of image making. This can be seen in painted symbols of love, and the clay houses. The mandalas were especially exciting for the women. They were so proud of their designs. They realised that they have a skill for design, not just creating. It was common for the women to use bright colours, but as time went on, we begin to see the women's individual sense of creativity as they use different forms, shapes and styles.
In step 3, we are able to see development of the woman's unique sense of creativity (images 13 to 19 below). They enjoyed trying new materials and finding new ways to express themselves. The painted and embroidered suns were all different, but when they came together in a banner, they represented the influence of the sun and showed how the women have learned to work together. “I learned to unite with others, how to talk to others and make friends."
The clay sculptures represent the woman's confidence in using the materials in their own way and trusting their ability to create and express themselves. The visual journals were also worked on. The women were excited at the opportunity of telling their story through images and materials. Every session, the Therapist had to be very firm about ending the day, otherwise the women would never stop creating art pieces. By the end, they had run out of all materials because they loved incorporating them into their art.
The “Future" images and stories were very moving. Even the elder women had plans to do more training so they could learn how to create products they could later sell, or even to become a nurse, teacher, or other jobs they had never dreamed of before. “I have a lot of happiness, i want to learn to be a nurse to help the women". They intended to continue with their weekly art making group. They have the therapists products of baskets, and jewely to bring home and put in the fair trade store in the cities where the Therapists resided.