Home > Our World > News > News - Recent Headlines
Children’s art helps draw two continents together


Danil’s drawing of his reed-sided home in Chicuque, Mozambique, is part of
an art exchange between children in his city and in Missouri.
UMNS photos courtesy of the Mozambique Initiative.

A UMNS Feature
By Kathy L. Gilbert*

Jan. 30, 2009

Lions are not common in all of Africa, and many children in the United States have dark skin.

These two facts shocked and amazed children in St. Louis, Mo., and Chicuque, Mozambique, after they exchanged drawings depicting their everyday lives.


Sylvia from Missouri drew a
picture of a typical American
neighborhood playground.
          

Tom Mitchell, chairperson of the Mozambique Initiative, came up with the idea as a way to extend the United Methodist Missouri Annual (regional) Conference’s work “beyond the hammer.”

“I’m making a conscious effort to expand our projects beyond construction,” he said.

The Mozambique Initiative is a ministry that links churches, groups and individuals in Missouri with congregations and districts of The United Methodist Church in Mozambique. The art exchange linked about 49 children from Missouri with 101 children, ages 3-14, in Mozambique.

Rebecca Gunter, a member of University City United Methodist Church who works at Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis, thought the art exchange would be “a great way for kids to learn about the world outside of their neighborhood.”

“I think it was a neat experience for the children to learn of America and Africa in a different way, different from just a map and a textbook. This engaged them in a fun way, and hopefully this will lead to further interest in different countries and continents,” she said.

The children’s drawings have been on exhibit in the gallery since Oct. 3. The exhibit closes Jan. 31.

“Everyone loves the artwork and how uninhibited the children from Africa are in their artwork,” Gunter said.

Where are the lions?

Children from Kid’s Place, a mostly African-American after-school program at University United Methodist Church, sent their art to Chicuque United Methodist Church.

When the Mozambique children saw the pictures from Missouri, they thought the art was from an African school because most of the drawings showed children with dark skin, Mitchell said. They were surprised to learn there were people with dark skin in the United States.

 
Edison’s picture of his Chicuque home includes drawings of
600-year-old baobab trees.
         
        

The Missouri children wanted to know if the African children had seen lions.

“The Mozambique children’s eyes just rolled,” Mitchell said. “There are no lions in that part of Mozambique, and no one had seen one.” Children in Missouri learned things are not the same everywhere in Africa, he added.

Kids are kids everywhere

Sharing their art “opens up the eyes of children on both sides,” said Alexis Miller, a member of University United Methodist Church and part of the Volunteers In Mission team that helped with the exchange.

“It helps the kids develop an appreciation for what they have or don’t have in their own lives, and also helps them gain an understanding of what life is like for someone their age thousands of miles around the world,” she said.

Miller said in many ways, kids are the same everywhere. They want to play with their friends, they don’t like waking up early for school, and they don’t sit still in church—even with their moms giving them “the look” to be still.

 
Brandi drew her apartment
home in University City
near St. Louis.
       

“If you were to look at some of the pictures the kids drew, you could not tell if they’re from the U.S. or Mozambique,” she said.

Saving lives

The Missouri initiative helps build churches and shelters for pastor families, provides leadership development, assists retired pastors, and supports safe water and other humanitarian projects.

“These partnerships strengthen the church in Mozambique and are the backbone of Missouri's mission and ministry,” said Carol Kreamer, coordinator for the initiative. “The covenants have literally saved lives by putting food on the table and building shelter for pastor families.”

Mozambique has more than 150,000 United Methodists in more than 170 congregations in 23 districts. Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala leads both annual conferences, overseeing 132 ordained pastors, 32 deacons and 278 evangelists and serving 150,584 church members. The bishop also oversees 29 schools, four Bible schools, two clinics, a theological school and a seminary, a hospital (Chicuque Rural Hospital) and agricultural programs.

*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Related articles

Elderly Mozambique women robbed of blankets, food

Mozambique pastors to get pensions in pilot project

Missouri churches provide aid to Mozambique

Children in New York, Bethlehem, exchange Christmas cards

Resources

Mozambique Initiative

Missouri Annual Conference

Sheldon Art Galleries

Mozambique: Land of Contrasts

Mozambique: Hope in Education

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW

Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.