Murals 5 in Antwerp, Belgium
When I completed Mural 2, there was a dedication ceremony to thank the
artists who decorated the refugee center. The founder of Zenith gave
a speech in English with the most delightful French accent. (I love
English spoken with a French accent.) A nasty little Welshman gave a
forgettable talk. And, I broke the ice with the opening speech.
My speech was short, to the point, and humorous. My English had to be translated into Dutch as I spoke. But, I wanted people to enjoy it no matter what language they understood.
I explained how pleased I was that this mural project just fell into my lap. I had looked for community service projects in Antwerp. But, because I didn't speak Dutch, it was no easy task. I tried. I failed. That received the chuckle I wanted. It also caught the attention of Vivianne, who understood completely the problems I faced with English in a world of Dutch speakers. But, she also spoke Dutch and could make connections for me that were otherwise impossible to find. And, she already knew of Oscare, a burn center, that would send me back to the wall again.
The mural at Oscare was twelve yards along a curved wall. The center had an educational video depicting nine situations in the home where people could get burned. (In case you are wondering, the number one way to get burned in Belgium is with hot water.) I put each of those situations into the mural, adding a healthy dose of my kid-friendly cartoons.
A wide range of people came to help with the project. There were former students and coworkers from school; patients, parents, and siblings from Oscare; and employees from the center including the director and main surgeon. My personal favorite painter was the five-year-old patient who came for a session with a specialist. Before leaving, she and her father sat down on the floor to paint a section of the wall. Twice!