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With previous murals, I was a little anxious when I had no idea what was going to happen upon arrival.  Now, it is just part of the adventure.  When we arrived in Johannesburg, Coenie called Regi at Khulisa for directions.  As soon as I heard his voice, I knew I'd been in good hands. I was right, too. Regi and Mel were such gracious hosts.

Khulisa is an organization that works with young criminal offenders, drug awareness, and a host of other problems faced by people growing up in the townships. So, it comes as no surprise that this mural was unlike any other I'd worked with.  It was an anti-drug mural painted on the side of a housing flat at a street corner in a township where drug addicts hung out. The drawing showed a South African taxi bus with the message, "Don't let drugs take you for a ride!" There was every possibility that some of the painters were drug addicts.  Certainly some of the spectators were.  Even though it was close to freezing, (Well, at least it felt that way without gloves.) I had a crowd of painters and spectators every day.  No, it wasn't hard to find volunteers to paint. 

The mural was about 5 yards by 2 yards so I needed a ladder to reach the higher sections to draw the grid and paint.  But, I didn't have a ladder.  However, I had resourceful helpers with me who did the next best thing in a township.  They grabbed heavy duty trash cans and climbed on them to get to those hard to reach places.  And, every time I saw them climb up, I knew they were risking their lives for my art.

The mural was painted by the home of Mel's grandmother.  She was one of the many people watching over me. And, when it got too cold -- and it did get too cold -- there was always a hot cup of tea waiting for me at grandmother's kitchen.

Copyright 2010 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.