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Children’s home in Khayelitsha . 2005-2006

The work with the children is great! Great interest in me and in colors I bring along…. I work in groups and individually or in pairs with the children. We often scribble: nonverbally responding to individual strokes or doodles, a great start!

Sabelo (a 2.5 year old boy) as an example, I can briefly describe my art therapy work. First time I see him, he is lying in his crib, shaking his head back and forth. The second time I see him in a crowd of children, I look him in the eyes smiling – and he starts crying, screaming and fighting off with his hands. A few weeks later, a social worker brings him into the room where we are drawing. He looks around, unsettled; he watches the two other children drawing with wax crayons and colored pencils. Slowly he comes to the table and after a few minutes he too picks up a wax crayon. I give him the drawing sheet without eye contact. Only when he holds out the first crayon and hands it to me do I react. He has actively made contact with me and we make a game of handing me each pencil after use. When I am back at the orphanage two days later, he approaches me and takes my hand to  paint with me. I ritualized going and coming back by taking each of the two children I am working with by my hand to go into the room and bringing them back to the other children. This way, the beginning and end are so clearly defined. In the therapeutic work, I create a space where the children feel protected and safe. They are aware of all my attention for our time together and feel that they are doing something special – because they are special.

For me, Sabelo was a gift: he showed me clearly that the work needs time, and trust and has finally surprises. Change is possible. The work with the children always goes to my heart.

Hospice in Kenilworth . 2005 – 2006

An impressive place with a lot of attention to detail: daily flower service, a grand piano in the entrance hall plays from time to time and delights the people living and working here.

In one of the rooms lie an extremely young woman and an elderly lady, two cancer patients. The older lady seemed to be dying two days ago, but is awake and responsive today. She paints with me her body and the tumors in her chest and lungs. The younger one touches me very much: she has a 12 year old daughter and a 10 year old son. She tells me about her short life. A year after her mother passed away, she got cancer and now has a limited time to live. She is very open, is at peace with herself, has compassion for herself and describes her fears for the future of her children. And she has confidence that her physical death is not a weakness or defeat. She paints three pictures for her children, which I laminated and keeping them for the children….

Michaela Frank

In the framework of the LA-21-partnership-projects in 2005/06 Michaela Frank worked one year in Cape Town in various contexts: as an art therapist in an orphans’ home, later in a hospice. And she took part in painting a mural in Khayelitsha.