Painting the town red, yellow and blue

Panorama of Goma mural

Tough. Dirty. Violent.

Not the characteristics you’d wish upon any childhood are they?

But this is the way of life for many of the street children in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Finding enough food to eat and a safe place to sleep at night can be a full time job, and many of them rarely get the chance to let their guard down and just have some fun. Most have never been to school and virtually none of them had ever picked up a paintbrush before.

When UK-based charity charity AptART and artist Jonathan Darby offered to pay a visit to one of the Street Children Centres we support in Goma, we jumped at the chance. They worked with 45 of the children to paint a huge mural on the side of the building, and gave the children art lessons.

Street Childrein in Goma

Red. Yellow. Blue.

The children helped design and paint the mural – it consists of a lion (the emblematic animal of the Congo), a peace symbol and waves of red, yellow and blue with an abstraction of the Congolese flag. It also incorporates hand-prints and self-portraits of the young artists.

Over the course of a week painting mania ensued as the children worked in groups covering and colouring walls, canvasses and each other with any paint they could get their hands on.

Painting and drawing gives children a creative outlet and the chance to escape the difficulties of their daily lives. It also helps to build their trust in adults as they are often beaten or sexually abused by the police, soldiers and other authority figures.

The project has made their environment a lot brighter and it put a big smile on a lot of faces. Our huge thanks to Jonathan and Samantha for volunteering their time for us in Goma.

In spite of their life experiences, or perhaps because of them, the children have a relentless enthusiasm and ingenuity. ”
AptART's Samantha Robinson