Art Story

Christmas is nearly upon us and for the last few years we have been running a Christmas card drawing competition among the children at Sarnelli House. We have been ably assisted by two volunteers Thor Vaassen from Australia and Wang Chamchoy from Chiang Mai in Thailand.  Both Wang and Thor visit all the houses, supply the art supplies and encourage the children to draw Christmas with a Thailand theme. Many of the children are very tentative at initiating a drawing themselves and don’t have the confidence to begin. Once they see an example or watch friend start to develop a picture they invariably copy it.  For some children, even this is a learning and creative experience for them. It is  great to see some others who are not so outgoing or  confident put their heads down and try their hardest. Of course there are a few standout artists at Sarnelli House and these seem to win every time. So Wang and Thor developed a new “encouragement” category in the competition so those with less ability but the same desire to achieve were recognized. The children weren’t told of this category and when it came time to announce the winners at a party at the Mary and Joseph Hall last month, the children thought there wouldn’t be so many surprises, many of them continued playing and eating and only giving half an ear to the announcements.  However when names were announced that weren’t expected, the children were thrilled and shy and embarrassed all at the same time as they came over to Fr Ole and Wang and Thor to accept their prize and explain their picture.  There were 16 awards given out to the children and it was great to see their unique take on Christmas which included a Christmas frog, a Christmas squid, some really abstract art and some good and some not so good creations.

Something about the winners (children’s names have been changed)….

Taw is a 15 year old boy living at Sarnelli House, who arrived when he was 1 year old with his mother dying from HIV/AIDS and his grandmother too old to care for him. Wat has been diagnosed with a learning disability and speaks very little, and although he attends school his marks are very poor. He is not into the usual sporty pursuits like the other 31 boys at Sarnelli House but marches to the beat of his own drum. He picks up sticks and rubbish and makes weird and captivating constructions with them, he also loves to pull the younger kids around in an old cart and never tires of decorating it with string, branches of trees and cans. It was a great thrill for Taw to receive his prize and a greater thrill for those who care for him to see his face light up with surprise and joy. 

Petal  is 18 years old and arrived at Sarnelli House when she was 8 years old having been the victim of serious sexual abuse from a family friend. Her grandmother and aunt rescued her and bought her to Fr Shea, her parents have never visited her and she has lost contact with the family since then. Despite this rocky start Petal is a self contained young woman. With her artistic ability she is now in her first stages of studying architecture in Nongkhai. 

Third prize went to Pian a young 12 year old girl who has only been at Sarnelli for a month. She was referred by the Thai Welfare Services after being sexually abuse regularly by a family friend who paid her 40 baht each time to keep quiet about it. Pian was absolutely thrilled to receive an award and was tongue tied but beaming when she had to explain her picture. 


Kate Introna, November 2015