A dispatch from Lizzie of Arte Moris

When we arrived Familia Hope in Gleno the first day, the Arte Moris boys were greeted with broad smiles and handshakes – they’d come a few years before to give art workshops to some of the now much older residents of the orphanage. After a meeting and lunch with the kids, everyone got to work on sketching crocodiles with the crayons and markers Martin brought over. The kids were relatively quiet and reserved, but seemed to be enjoying sketching with the artists. We got lots of great photos of the kids, their faces a mix of stern concentration as they furiously erased mistakes and random smiles and laughter as they giggled at each other’s attempts to get their sketches right.

Later in the afternoon we interviewed Isa, the founder of Familia Hope, about the history of the orphanage (this interview was posted earlier, in two parts), the lives of the children and the situation in Timor past and present. Once all the children had finished their first day’s workshop, we said our goodbyes. Everyone was excited about us returning the following Monday to spend another two days at the orphanage.

We got back out to Gleno by late Monday afternoon in time to have a sing-a-long with the kids while waiting for dinner. We had an early night so we could get up bright and early for the next morning’s workshop. The day went really well, and the kids were much more relaxed after hanging out the previous night sharing songs and stories (which is why we decided to come and stay). We sketched ideas for each page of the book, and after lunch everyone began painting and having a great time using lots of colour – stopping occasionally to give interviews to the Arte Moris film crew! We ended the day with a trip in the land cruiser up through the hills of Ermera, looking out over the coffee plantations for which this district is renowned.

Work began late the following day because the resident monkey escaped his enclosure. He was running around like crazy and the kids were climbing trees trying to catch him, while the orphanage dog tracked him from the ground. When everything was finally brought to order the children resumed their painting for the rest of the morning. After lunch we had another short delay due to a sudden downpour that required some lightening quick interventions to prevent the workshop – and all the artworks – getting soaked. At the end of our third day of painting and filming everyone was pretty tired but happy with what they had produced. The children proudly held up their paintings for everyone to see. We were all sad to say goodbye, having had lots of fun together, but the children were excited by the prospect of seeing their paintings appearing in the book later in the year. And, of course, they say ‘elo’ (hello).