For confidentiality reasons, all the names used in our beneficiaries’ stories have been changed. 

Nella is a woman from Burundi who attended all 12 sessions of the workshop. She was very reserved and often sat with her arms crossed.

Nella has had to face many traumatic events in her life: her entire family was killed in a genocide.

During the first session,  she kept very quiet and said that she did not have any specific talent for art. Despite her doubts, though, she tried anyways and started making a collage along with the other women. This was the beginning of her journey.

She created a collage of two of her dreams, which she hopes to see come true one day.

The first one represented a father with his children, playing and going to the beach to watch the waves move up and down as they crash onto the sand. 

The second one was about the opportunity to live with a man who likes to (and lets her) do sports and take music lessons.

By session 2, Nella started opening up. She laughed, looking embarrassed, as she danced, moving her arms and feet around the room to the rhythm of the music.

When she got tired of dancing, she joined two other women to help draw a collective mandala.

Despite having trouble finding her place with the other women, she seemed quite talkative and open.

At the beginning of the third session, the women were asked if they wanted to listen to music from their home country and dance to it.

Nella didn’t have a song in mind, and when the team offered to play a traditional song from her home country, she said that it was not correct. Despite this, she followed the other women to learn the traditional dance.

During the next session, Nella was surprisingly enthusiastic and looked more relaxed than before. 

She said that she likes being in this art therapy programme and that it was a good idea of Fedasil and The Red Pencil to organize this. When she is here she forgets about her problems and it helps her to be with other women.

Nella is really beginning to find her place in the group and to relate to the other women.

During the next session, the participants were asked to draw a path representing their personal journey. They could use images, drawings or paint.

Nella didn’t like this idea.

She said,

“It is very hard for me to think of and remember all the parts of my life. It was so horrible." 

This was the first time that she talked about her traumatic experience.

When asked about her future, she put an image of a car and a few sheep. She enjoyed her session but would like to forget about the past.

In session 7, the women learned how to handle and get rid of stress.

Eyes closed and relaxed, Nella began to move her hands up and around the block of clay. She created a jar to put beautiful flowers or delicious candy, she said.

By session 8, she looked more enthusiastic and energised. She was becoming more present in the group and was able to open up more.

Nella, like any other person, has ups and downs during her week. Today was a down.

She was not in a good mood and began doubting again her ability to draw. But being the strong individual that she is, she went on and began to draw a tree.

“This is a tree from my country, under the tree, the children play and the adults have conversations with family members or friends," she explains.

“When I draw, I can connect to the beautiful memories and escape my problems."

 “I want to move forward in life. I want to work."

Art therapy sessions make her happy and positive.

Nella is very proud of herself and glad that she attended the programme. She never believed that it could be so much fun to create. She wants to create again.

In the last hours, Nella is offered the chance to dance.

For the first time, she stands up and begins to dance in front of all the others with a beautiful smile.