Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WOWing up Horsham!

The Army Lane WOW wall is looking FABULOUS!!

 A great new poet for Horsham:  Harrison Htoo Po Kyaut

Harrison is 12 years of age, and attends Horsham College. He has contributed so much to the WOW sessions, not only in writing his amazing poetry up on Army Lane wall and colouring his brick borders so beautifully, but also Harrison has provided much honest and valuable information to the rest of the WOW group at the Mibus Centre on Thursdays.....information on life in Thai refugee camps, and then arriving in Werribee, where he lived before coming to Horsham. He says that while Horsham is very safe, which makes life much more comfortable, that it is also very serious. A little more music and colour in the street would perhaps liven this old town up. Well, Army Lane is a good way to get this all rolling, Harrison. Thanks for being such a fantastic WOWer!

Above is a shot of Sarah Htoo Po Kyaut, six year old sister of P'Leah and Harrison. Sarah has been so terrific in colouring in bricks in Army Lane, she has a real sense of colour and pattern matching! The wall really needed her assistance to look as good as it does, thank-you for your help, Sarah! 

Above P'Leah Htoo Po Kyaut, aged 10, and Soe Son Di Shwe Ta Lee, aged 11. These two young writers have been completely inspiring for the others in the group, they have a rare ability to describe their innermost feelings so honestly and poetically ... and like Harrison, their stories on their old lives are so important for us all to hear. These two thoughtful WOW participants agree with Harrison, that life is great in Horsham because it is so safe, which is such a massive relief compared with living in overcrowded refugee camps in Thailand....but why are the walls of shops and houses all coloured in pale browns? Why aren't houses painted in attractive colours? Why does everyone use more or less the same colour paint? Are the houses trying to reflect the colours of the sand or dirt around Horsham? (Readers, please feel free to answer these questions or comment below the post.) 

Look at the Karen flag in the photo of Soe Son Di above. See how the blue faded after the rainfall? Soe Son Di is wiping some of the chalk drips off. And look at how Soe Son Di coloured it all back in so the flag looks as good as new (below)...Good Work, Soe Son Di, it looks fantastic!

 Soe Son Di is such a hard worker. Here she is rubbing off all the accidental chalk marks around the wall. Everybody had left for the afternoon on that Saturday, but Soe Son Di made sure there was nothing left unfinished before leaving. 

On the left in the photo above is Tallula Harradine-Hodge, our latest  particpant to join the WOW club. Tallula is a cousin of Yasmine Harradine,  and I really hope she can come again on a Saturday to work on the wall. 

 Yaren Akiz doesn't just work on her own words and colours, she also helps out anyone who needs a spare colouring hand or two. Here are two beautiful shots of Yaren as the assistant colouring artist. Beautiful work, Yaren!

 I love this shot of the WOW group before they settle into a smiling pose for the media shoot. Priceless facial expressions!
Madhu Annathurai has put up her latest poem on the wall, which is poignantly beautiful. I know Madhu feels very strong links with her home country of India, and I'm not surprised. About 21 years ago, I spent six fantastic months travelling around India, and I loved this country so much that I had to go back for a few more months the following year! Must be so hard at times, to feel split between two homes of the heart. 

 Another giant thank-you to Soe Son Di, here she's washing the crushed pieces of chalk off the pavement before we go home, so the workers using the lane on Monday morning can have a clean walkway. These kind of finishing up details are extremely important while working in a public place. Soe Son Di understands this. I must make sure she gets an extra large piece of that delicious hedgehog from Cafe Thipatiy next Tuesday!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The WOW club is still growing!

Welcome Sentia and Tah! We had a record number of twelve WOW writers in Army Lane last Tuesday, ready for action.

A giant THANK-YOU to Kaylene and Narelle of Cafe Thipatiy for catering for the WOW club, this fantastic project couldn't have worked this well without your flexibility, friendliness and patience.
Cafe Thipatiy has been the perfect place for the WOW club members to meet up, drink delicious beverages, eat yummy hedgehog and lemon slice, and think about the next stage of Writing on the Wall. 
We are using fantastic chalks from Ace Art and Stationery Suppliers, Firebrace st, Horsham for this WOW project. Terry is such a friendly manager there, with a great memory for names and faces. And we are using recycled paper notebooks, which I buy from Trev's Bargain Emporium, corner of Wilson and Darlot Streets, Horsham. 
  I think Horsham is a nice and quiet place.
I feel completely safe.
I feel that I have no war that I must run from
or seek refuge from...

It's a very important message for us all:  that if you have managed to survive war in your home country, then survive years in a refugee camp in another country, Horsham in comparison must feel really safe and quiet and friendly. Thank-you so much for sharing this with the rest of Horsham, Sentia. 

Madhu, Soe Son Di, P'Leah and Bernad work overtime again last Tuesday to make this special wall speak loudly with colour. Once more, a big Thank-You to Robert of Horsham Disposals for offering  his Army lane wall to the WOW project. It's this kind of trust and open-mindedness that makes a community stronger, healthier and more attractive! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keeping It Real

 It's Thursday, May 2nd, 2013. The WOW team are watching a video in the Mibus Centre, upstairs at Horsham's Regional Library. 
Guess what they're watching on the laptop? 
The ABC Open video: "The Writing's On The Wall" 
starring themselves! 
There's Buket on ABC Open TV!

Some soulful writing from last Thursday's session at the Mibus Centre:

Harrison Htoo Po Kyaut  

To have a life in a bad world
Makes your dream cold and start to curl
But living in this world where people shine
you make good poems and your rhythms rhyme


Now that I'm in Australia, I will follow my dreams.
Now that I'm in Australia, I want to get a scholarship and go to university, then travel across the world.
With my opportunities, I will follow my dreams and help the people who are poor.

Soe Son Di Shwe ta Lee

I feel
special and cool
when I have a home
some food and family near
But when I look at the homeless people
I feel like I want to help them
but I cant, I dont know what to do
it costs so much


When I was in Thailand, I was about four years old
and I really wished to be a person who has enough money
a person my parents want me to be
I wanted to be a lot of things
but it just never happened
So I prayed to the Lord to make it happen
and found myself at Werribee

Things just got better
My family got enough food
And we had a
I felt so well
the problem was that my parents did not speak English so well

But now I live in Horsham
my life gets even better
My parents are now at English school
And also my dream came true
now I am in a writing club
and my brother is at soccer training
that is his dream
my parents' dream has come true too
because my dad now has a job
and the people of Horsham help my family
people are kind here

I know my real dream will come true
I know that
because things will get better
and I am in a better place
Now I love it here.

Bernad Ngendakumana

Life is like a dream
Some dreams are good
And you don't want to wake up
But you eventually wake up
And you wish you were back in that dream
Horsham is like a good dream
But with this dream
When you wake up
You are still there

Today, in Army Lane, Bernad coloured in a beautiful frame for his philosophical message about life being a journey that has brought him to Horsham. I think the Army Lane wall is calling out for the whole poem from above the photo. I'm sure we can find a  place for it next Tuesday. 
It was Harrison who finished off the top line in Bernad's frame: "Love is safe." I had never thought about love being safe, I asked him what that meant for him. He answered, "When you love someone, it makes you feel safe". This is what I'm really lapping up during these WOW sessions, I'm being given so many fresh perspectives on the things in life that really matter most. I am sure readers and viewers are finding this to be the case also.

P'Leah Htoo Po Kyaut

I love living in Horsham.
My dream is to be a doctor.
When I am older, I want to go to Melbourne University.
I want to get a scholarship and a great job.


I would love it if all my family could come to Australia
And live a great life.


In my own world, 
everyone would live in peace
and guns would not be invented.
All of the bad stuff would not be invented.
everybody would greet each other with a smile.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Army Lane WOW wall.

The WOW club is growing. Here we are at Cafe Thipatiy again, preparing our words for the next phase of Writing on the Wall.

That's so great, Shauna, what a fantastic thumbs up for Horsham! This needs to be put to music. Let's talk next Tuesday about this.
I love watching this collaboration develop each week. All members of Horsham's wider community are invited to come down to Army lane next Tuesday, 7th May, to watch the work in progress. It's a great opportunity for you to have a conversation with the WOW members while they write and draw, ask them about their stories, their cultures, their hopes and dreams for themselves in Horsham. We have thought a lot about these things in our writing sessions held at the Mibus Centre. You will be surprised at what you can learn in one little conversation with any of the WOW writers while they work on the wall. . .
Our latest WOW members: Bernad on the left, and Harrison on the right. Bernad has come here to Australia from Burundi, a country next to Tanzania in Africa. Harrison is Karen, he has come to Australia from Thailand. Harrison is P'Leah's brother. I'm stoked that they have joined the club. Harrison had to leave for his guitar lesson halfway through, but Bernad took over where Harrison left off. 

A member of Horsham's shopping community showed great interest in the action happening in Army Lane. She quizzed both Bernad and Yaren about the project, and told us her stories about travelling overseas. She really liked Yaren's written line: "I love my mum's food." I heard her tell Yaren she had never heard a child say that before. She also asked Yaren, "What is your  favourite meal that your mother would cook for you?"  and Yaren answered "Spaghetti!"

 Madhu, P'Leah and Bernad work overtime to complete Bernad's flag. 
Thumbs Up alright!
 What an awesome message, written up by both Harrison and Bernad. These WOW writers are really helping us all to appreciate what we have here in Horsham. I'm really happy that Horsham has been the place that these WOW writers and their families have decided to settle. 
Soe Son Di, last week with Larissa Romensky, ABC Open

Tonight, following our Thursday WOW session in the Mibus Centre, I was lucky enough to be invited into Soe Son Di's house to meet her family and friends and have a cuppa. I learnt so much about Karen history tonight, and about living in Thai refugee camps, about trying to survive in countries which will not allow the Karen people their own homeland, nor recognise them as belonging anywhere at all. These are amazing people who have survived such indescribable hardships in their lives, and now have found new life in Horsham. 

And here we have another powerful observation from Yasmin Harradine, who joined us again at Army Lane last Tuesday. Yasmine is the only member of the WOW club who can claim Australia as the original homeland of her family and their ancestors. It's so great to have her statements and the colours of the Australian Aboriginal flag on this wall. Check out the hands of Hozaira in the photo below, after helping Abraham work on Yasmine's Australian flag colours. I love the way everyone is ending up working on each other's flag colours, it really shows how all cultures can be good friends in Horsham and Australia.