The art of freindship

Art for All 2008

The Art for All camp (16 to 20 July) for the disabled children had their annual outing this year at the Arayana Phupiman Resort, about three hours by road, northeast of Bangkok.  Like in the previous 12 camps, since 1997, there were about 150 kids gathered here with mixed disabilities from all over Thailand. There were also more then 300 volunteers and support staff to help run this fun-filled 5 days event.

All the participants are grouped into smaller groups of about 10 and each group is made up of one or two persons who is blind, deaf or with physical, mental disabilities and one who is without any obvious disability. There is an experienced leader assigned to each group and he or she leads them through out the 5 days from morning to night.

The concept of grouping the ten children with mixed disabilities is to get them to understand the art of friendship and the need for interdependence of each other during the camp and also later in life. The blind that cannot see may have the voice, the deaf who cannot hear may have the eyes, those without arms or legs may have the mental capabilities, the rest can all compensate for each other short comings and get along to create music, dance, and many forms and expressions of art.

What is in theory and what happens during their stay together may not always work out as expected, especially given such short time available. Nevertheless, many of the young people are experiencing camp life and the various art activities for the first time in their life in a luxurious scenic outdoor setting. For some this may be their first and last time in the company of some of their disabled mates and their memory and experiences at the camp are all they can take home with them.