|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
Sylvia from Missouri drew a
picture of a typical American
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.
The Missouri children wanted to know if the African children had seen lions.
Edison’s picture of his Chicuque home includes drawings of
600-year-old baobab trees.
“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.
“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.
Brandi drew her apartment
home in University City
near St. Louis.
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
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
*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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Missouri Annual Conference
Sheldon Art Galleries
Mozambique: Land of Contrasts
Mozambique: Hope in Education