Re-painting the Touching Tiny Lives Safehouse

One night I spent 13 hours straight painting in the Dusk nursery. For a break, Brandy and I crazily danced around to Mumford and Sons and I hit my head on the wall; my first thought was whether I had smudged the fresh coat of blue paint. I lived at Touching Tiny Lives for a total of two months in two different time periods, a trip to the U.S. in between. This was enough time to watch new babies join the Touching Tiny Lives Safe Home and to see some graduate with full bellies, reunified with their families. I grew closest to a child just shy of two years old, Wenzile. Much older than the other children she contently drew on a piece of paper and I painted numbers onto the playroom wall. I sometimes played Takalani Sesame (Sesame Street South Africa) on my computer for her and the other children while I painted a blossoming peach tree, tediously stenciling flower after flower. Children Wenzile's age served as the inspiration for the playroom designs. I wanted to paint something that promoted learning and interaction, so the older children are always learning and the caregivers are motivated to create a stimulating environment. We also focused on a relaxing environment in all aspects that embodies the mission and ideals of Touching Tiny Lives.  

I blogged about Touching Tiny Lives in an earlier blog post titled, One Tiny Sock, where I had spent a week at TTL creating a video for their 12th anniversary. 

& this video describes the purpose of the TTL Safehouse 

The goal of the project was to repaint the entire safehouse/office building. Glossy yellow paint drenched every single wall, alarming both the eyes and the mind. The playroom had artistic black and white designs that were creative, but overwhelming. I first became an expert in interior design, then in interior paints, then a muralist. Leave it to Peace Corps to give you opportunities to lead projects you would not be able to do otherwise. Buying the right materials and resources was continuously by far the hardest part of the project with multiple trips to South Africa and budgets redrawn. We brought all thirty staff members together to clean the walls, move furniture, tape, and paint big surface areas. There were numerous unforeseen details, like repainting the trim, ceilings, varnishing the wood,  etc., that took up more time. Before I left in September, we had finished the first two nurseries, the paint in the playroom and hallways, but none of the designs. When I returned in December we finished designs in the playroom and other details. We also made chalkboards to identify a specific child's crib with their name, age, and weight. This was previously written on crinkled paper that would lie beside the crib. Brandy and two new volunteers, Nastasia and Emma, are currently building a bookshelf and drawing new child development posters.

And finally, before and after pictures of the entire project!

Dusk, Nursery 1

Rainbow Butterflies, Nursery 2

The Giving Tree, Playroom & Hallway

Creativity is a never-ending mental process that is both empowering and unlimited. I hope my time spent at TTL, through creating with others and the art that I left behind, will inspire new ideas in everyone at TTL, especially the babies:) 

A shout to awesome Momma Carter for donating the alphabet, world map, and animal decals!