Breaking Walls Day of Community Service 2017

N ew York, N.Y. For Breaking Walls, The Day of Community Service is a way for all the artists, ambassadors, and associates of our global family to give back to the host city. In 2017, because we added a Health & Wellness component to our annual Breaking Walls Global Conference, we felt that the community service should focus on young people facing health issues.

Photo Provided by Ms. Fran Tarr

Photo Provided by  Anna Vilarru

 

My fellow artist, Dominika, and I, wish to send our sincerest thanks to Agneiszka Baranowska of the Children’s Hospice of Warsaw for offering Breaking Walls the opportunity to meet, laugh, and make friends with the amazing “Sibling Support” Group and the young people in Hospice Care.

The Breaking Walls Day of Community Service gave me the opportunity to do the kind of work I’ve always dreamed of doing: helping families and children who face health struggles. Ever since I was a kid in Brazil, I would accompany my grandma and her Church Choir on visits to a Children’s Cancer Hospital. We sang one song and left. Why couldn’t we sing more? Make their smiles last a little longer? So, when I learned we would spend four hours with the Children’s Hospice of Warsaw Sibling Support Group, I was so thrilled.

We arrived at the hospice, it seemed a bit like a cold, sterile doctor’s office. I first thought, “Will I be able to deal with the atmosphere?” Soon, my fellow artists and ambassadors entered the community room and spotted two young girls with their mom, awaiting our arrival. Their eyes were so sad and their small bodies so closed down. I remembered when I was their age and would see the teenagers in my neighborhood. I idolized them, but I was a bit scared of them, too. This memory helped me realize how much I would love every minute of this experience — making these kids feel comfortable.

Photo Provided by Ms. Fran Tarr

Photo Provided by Anna Vilarru

 

Step one towards creating this comfort began with our amazing Ensemble-Building ambassadors, Athi and Indie from Cape Town. They enthusiastically guided the entire group through fun and touching ice-breakers. One such “game” was when we all, as a group, had to keep balloons in the air to the count of 20.

In these moments I completely forgot my inability to speak Polish and my troubles back home. I could see that the “Siblings” were also just

enjoying the moment. The sweet moments of ensemble building added up so that by lunchtime, we all sat comfortably together.

After lunch, we divided into small teams of three or four and we began drawing our group friendship mural. I collaborated with Indie, Karola and Ula. We started slow . . . a heart by me and a flower by Ula. Karola started to add stick people, four stick people to be exact. She excitedly pointed to one and then to me. I got her message and wrote my name next to “me”. Soon we all had labeled ourselves. With part completed, Karola added the most special part of our drawing — przyjaciel. Przyjaciel is the Polish word for friend. Wow, that was the most amazing feeling of the day! As each team finished their drawings, we added them to our mural. I really appreciated when everyone came together and made our friendship mural. Seeing all the kids smiling really made all our hearts melt.

Photo Provided by Ms. Fran Tarr

Photo Provided by Anna Vilarru

 

I am so proud of the group photo from that day. As I looked at all the kids working together with our artists (even without everyone speaking the same language and still being able to communicate), that’s was when I really became emotional about our day at the Children’s Hospice of Warsaw.

It was sad to see our time end, yet as we left everyone was smiling and saying, “Fantastique! Fantastique!”

While many of us collaborated on this beautiful experience at the hospice, a few artists traveled to visit young people in their homes. My friend and fellow artist, Dominika from Warsaw, will also share her thoughts on this portion of Community Service Day.

At first, I was very afraid, I didn’t know what to expect or how the visit with this 14-year old boy in his home would take shape. When we were traveling to Karol’s house, I felt quite strange. But when we arrived, I felt calm, happy, and something…well, indescribable. We saw Karol’s rabbits and then we went inside his home. When I crossed doorstep and I saw this little, strong man – I was so moved. He left quite an impression! I was lost in admiration. His parents told us about their family life. They showed us a family album with beautiful photos of some meaningful events like weddings, communions, and the birth of their grandson.

Photo Provided By Anna Vilarru

Photo Provided By Anna Vilarru

 

Dannie, and my fellow artist, Mustafa, told Karol about their lives in South Africa and Palestine, about the animals, the food, and the

traditional dress. They shared videos, music, and photos from their homelands with him. These two hours passed so quickly!

I left that home incredibly thankful to Breaking Walls and the Children’s Hospice of Warsaw for giving me an opportunity to meet such a magical person – Karol. I am grateful for such a beautiful experience.

For all of us in Breaking Walls 2017 Warsaw, being able to put a smile on struggling faces doesn’t have a price. And the most important thing, to make all of this happen, we needed nothing besides good people being willing to unite!

To Agnieszka and the entire staff of the Children’s Hospice of Warsaw, we send you all our respect for your dedication in bringing solace, support, and beauty to these young people and their families.

Breaking Walls Artists: Andre Rocha of Brooklyn and Dominika Suchecka of Warsaw.

Article and photos provided by Ms. Fran Tarr, Director Breaking Walls . Also, this article was revised, edited and posted by Israel Satana, J. Luce Foundation “Young Global Leader.”

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Israel Santana
Journalism, Events & Social Media "Young Global Leader"at The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation.