From Freedom Rodriguez, Peacebuilders Camp Counselor…
Once again art and creativity prove to be a great way to stir the imagination, teach, and inspire. Being a counselor at Peacebuilders Camp for only four days has already given me such a wonderful opportunity to learn and help grow the confidence and identity of young campers learning about human rights. The art project that I’m leading is a 6×9 mural of a very symbolic tree. Without much detailed direction the campers eagerly jumped right in and a seed was planted. From scribbles to hands caked in paint they are creating a tree, an image that represents the past, present, and future hopes and aspirations.
I simply presented the concept and they all agreed that so many men and women went before them and have struggled through the dirt of discrimination and other social justice issues, many finding the life giving waters of justified rights but many others only able to go so far. Nonetheless they all represent the roots establishing the tree in which the branches and the fruit represent present day and future peacebuilders. They are learning how vital human rights are to persevere and continue the great work of those gone before them, to bear fruit of those that believed in them and of what they themselves believe in. To fight with nonviolence, to stand up for themselves and also for those who cannot, to defend what and whom they love, to defeat hatred itself. Indeed they have vitality and power to do so. They are the perfect candidates for this peacebuilders camp.
I also had the opportunity to share with the campers about The Face To Face Initiative, my effort to paint the portraits of people around the world living through life’s most difficult circumstances and to share their story of hope with the world.
In 2003 I visited Africa for the first time and my life has never been the same since. I was completely overtaken by its raw beauty and its harsh realities. I visited again in 2006 and it proved to be a confirmation of my growing desire to help and love others through my life and art.
I believe this initiative will bring encouragement and empowerment to those living with HIV/AIDS. They need others to help show their importance and value to society as human beings.
I am currently working with CARE for AIDS to paint and publish a new collection of portraits and stories. CARE for AIDS partners with Kenyan churches to operate life transforming centers that serve the physical, spiritual, economic, and social needs of men and women living with HIV/AIDS. Each of these centers operate from within the local church and serve 80 clients at a time. These 80 men and women go through a nine month process of education, training, and support in order to live full, productive, and healthy lives. Learn more at careforaids.org
And to learn more about The Face To Face Initiative please visit:
and if you want to see a teaser to a documentary being made about the initiative visit: