For confidentiality reasons, all the names used in our beneficiaries’ stories have been changed.
Alyssa is a young woman from Republic of Congo (Kivu). She speaks French. She came to Belgium alone, and is the mother of a young child. Alyssa joined the workshop and attended most of the sessions. She has had a hard time facing her emotions and having to deal with them.
At the beginning, Alyssa was very detached and did not trust anyone. Little by little, day by day, she learned to build relationships with the art therapist and the group. Her attitude changed significantly as her journey grew and she learned to move forward.
The main theme of her work is
How to deal with difficult feelings, and how to not give up on life?
It took a while for Alyssa to come to the sessions and participate, even though she was invited several times by the Fedasil staff. Until one day she decided to come and observe. Half an hour later, she was gone.
At first, Alyssa was a bit isolated and had trouble relating to the group. She seemed to be in distress. She was always tired, because she rarely slept.
She chose to draw a church, because it reminded her of her home country. “There are a lot of churches where I used to live," she said.
The first impression of Alyssa was that she seemed powerless and was simply looking for someone to help her.
One of the sessions’ objectives was to strengthen the understanding of the different events of the participants’ life and to develop awareness of personal strengths when it comes to overcoming obstacles.
Alyssa had a hard time getting into the creative process. She was very hesitant and needed to be reassured.
Finally, she picked up a pencil and started to draw, moving around the paper, she began drawing what looked like a tree. She took her time, doing tiny point-strokes to contour it. She was disappointed in the end because it did not look perfectly symmetric.
“This is me. My life has been full of thorns. The trunk represents the tears, the two green layers, despair, the black circle inner tension. And finally, the inner circle, serenity", Alyssa said.
The session aimed to help the participants become aware of their personal strengths and to build self-confidence.
Alyssa wanted to write her own strengths and give strength to others.
She chose the ability to love and be loved, courage and wisdom, and painted them onto rocks.
At the next session, Alyssa was the first one to walk in, with a friend and a new participant.
She had a hard time with the exercise. As she began breathing in and out, pacing her breaths and trying to relax, her past emotions came flooding back. These made her feel sad. She wrote,
“Be positive, not depressed, trust one person, be patient, don’t be sad, smile to life, be courageous."
The session seemed to enable Alyssa to connect to her inner feelings.
She felt a lot of sadness and fear, and her heart hurt a lot because of them. She also felt worried and stressed. But also joyful.
Alyssa chose a picture of an orange sky at sunset, this made her feel peaceful and at ease.
Taking a ball of clay, in circular movements, she started forming a larger ball. Seeming overwhelmed by emotions, she closed her eyes and squashed the ball so it was completely flat. Going back and forth between wanting a tall figure and a flat surface, Alyssa stopped and placed her head in her hands.
It was time for sharing time, as everyone gathered around and sat in a circle, Alyssa seemed to freeze. When she tried to talk, she started crying silently, unable to keep her emotions in. She was remembering a difficult moment and was suffering.
One of the participants got up, walked over to Alyssa and offered her a hug. The therapist thought it best to place the clay figure on the other side of the room so it was far away from her, and could not reach her. She said,
“Now this thing is very far from you, it is very small, you can barely see it. It cannot hurt you anymore.”
When the time for painting came, she chose bright colours. She started painting slowly, but with intensity. The therapist pulled a chair and sat next to Alyssa.
“How are you feeling from a scale of 0 to 10?", the therapist asked. “4" , she replied.
During this session, Alyssa experimented with different colours, using greens and blues, as well as mixing the two to get varieties of blues and greens. She began drawing a ladder, that was representing the way her mood goes up and down.
Alyssa has suffered a lot in the past, and was still suffering then. She is very insecure when it comes to her creative side, but slowly was getting more confident.
As her favourite song played on the radio, she began moving her paint brush to the rhythm and singing along.
After she completed her painting, a girl sitting close to Alyssa approached her and looked at her paining.
“It reminds me of the cloth in African fabric", she said.
During the last session, the participants would be drawing and dancing.
When she completed the final touches on the paper, she began to tell her story.
“Once upon a time there was a mountain that was about to turn into a river. It was really a difficult process and it had a lot of worries and problems. One day, the mountain goes to the river: it wants to have better morale, to be less worried and less fearful. This mountain wants to go all the way, to be free, to get what it wants."
She shared that she still had the hope to keep traveling and to get a work permit, to get some training, a job, a salary and finally, have all that one needs in life.
“I really need God to listen to my prayers. I know how to laugh, to be social but I’m always missing something… One day it will change and everything will be in order. This moment will come when I get tired of always staying like that. Be yourself, do not change, go ahead, do not go back anyway… everything will be fine one day. God is with you, he will never leave you and he will always be with you."
She added “I speak to this mountain, it turns out to be a river, it’s not easy but with patience, strength it will go, have positive thoughts… Life is sometimes harder than you think… You have to be hard and patient in life… Do not worry: the best is yet to come.”
“I want to leave sadness and fear behind."