You can tell a lot about a person by the way she colors.
One girl picks a palate and then colors all her letters to perfection, returning later to trace the borders with matching glitter paint.
Next to her, a girl colors one at a time before lining each letter with jeweled stickers in a precise pattern.
The third girl—who picked the only section of the sign with a complete word—seems to waver in her decorating scheme until, in the end, she covers her colors with densely-packed metallic leaves.
One girl is very particular about using a single marker in a single color for all her letters (no matter how many alternates we offer). Only blue. Blue is Andrea Ma’am’s favorite.
At the far end are two girls experimenting in technique and medium—glued ribbons, tape, stripes, glitter, leaves, stickers—and every letter is different. Drastically so. Even the exclamation points have their own faces. And, when we look over to see the pot of glitter leaves is dumped out all over the floor, we are not surprised.
Of course, there is also often the girl who won’t color at all.
When these girls arrived, they didn’t craft or color. They may have never held a marker or crayon and coloring books were alien objects. Over their months at 7 Sisters Home, however, they have grown to love this small act of creation.
Earlier this year, they made a big bouquet of fabric flowers for their teacher’s son’s wedding; they were so excited to attend. Our girls draw pictures of the plants they learn about in science class and once created a whole street of houses to learn odd and even numbers in math. They love to flip through magazines and cut out words with sounds they are slowly learning to recognize from English class.
And they were thrilled to help create this sign to welcome their friend, 7 Sisters staff member and teacher “Andrea Ma’am,” back home from America.
Helping someone to create something—a poem, a picture, even a garden—is a way to give her control in her own life. There’s a defining sense of self that comes when you look at something and know that if you had stopped, had given up, then this thing? It wouldn’t exist. The pencil cannot color on its own and though a flower may grow in the wild, its chances of survival in this difficult place are unfortunately slim.
And making something beautiful? Helping it (or her) flourish?
That’s a pretty fun thing to do.