You are the founder of Art in All of Us, a unique charity project. Tell us about its purpose, its successes and your current projects.
Art in All of Us promotes tolerance and cultural exchanges in schools using Art as a communication method. Today more than 500,000 children have participated in our projects in each one of the 193 countries of the world. Every day we have more schools willing to participate in our activities. All this would not have been possible without our strong network of volunteers (AiA works only with volunteers) and partners like the Unicef.
In the last 6 months, I have put most of efforts in 2 new projects that I cherish. First with our new partner Red Pencil and the Red Cross, we worked on several Art Therapy activities in Ormoc, Philippines that was severely struck by a typhoon last year: a natural disaster long forgotten by most media. Secondly, in collaboration with the UNICEF in Syria, we are setting up an art exchange between local children and children from 31 European countries, giving some hope to Syrian children and building bridges of communication. I am leaving to Syria at the end of November to set up this program and train also some local teachers.
You also published a unique photo album with photos from children from every country in the world. Tell us about the challenges of doing this. Is the book still available for those who may want to purchase a copy?
You have to be fast to get one. There are only about 20 left out of 30,000 copies. It is a luxury coffee table book that showcases the 192 countries (there were 192 countries at time of publishing) through the eyes and rhymes of children. Each country is presented by a photograph, a drawing and a poem written by a local child. The book is very big and weighs over 5kg. We needed that challenging size in order to really blow up magnificent images. But the biggest challenge was to scan professionally and translate each one of the 25000 drawings and poems that we gathered. Furthermore, we had no budget for that. For example, we had 100 poems from a dialect of eastern Mauritania. We had to find 10 volunteers talking that language and willing each to translate 10 poems for free… Internet was not really developed at that time and I guess still not in that region of the world….