Monday, December 3, 2007

Project Descriptions

This blog post is about our projects. At Project FOCUS we recognize our responsibility to share our progress with the people that have supported us. We apologize for the inexcusable delay in updates. Please stay involved and please keep us accountable; your participation keeps us motivated.

First, let's begin by defining art therapy.

Art therapy is a form of counseling which uses art making as a way to express feelings, emotions, and personal stories.

Unfortunately, the role of art therapy in Uganda has been drowned out by the overwhelming necessity of material needs. In the community of Lyantonde, Uganda, some children need access to clean water, a healthy diet, stable structures to live in, and an education to break the vicious cycle of poverty. At Project FOCUS we do not ignore these needs, but we also do not underestimate the complexity of the problems that underly these circumstances. We do not claim to have answers. All we can offer is an open mind, our skills and resources. Unfortunately, we do not have engineers or economists on our team (yet). Our philosophy and work has resonated specifically with artists, social workers, students and activists who were inspired to travel to Uganda this summer to do what they could, offering a voice to individuals living in a community devastated by HIV/AIDS. Perhaps a fresh water well could have saved hundreds of lives, a new school could have educated a village, or a few thousand dollars could have fortified homes or bought bushels of drought-resistant seeds - we don't know. So we act according to what we do know - that the simple act of creating art can make people feel powerful. Important ideas are expressed, personal stories are shared, and a community can come together to acknowledge and appreciate their own strengths and weaknesses.

What follows are the description of six projects that are currently being carried out by a group of seven committed and capable members of our group. The six projects represent a diversity of voices, art medias, questions, and collaborations with local organizations.

Project 1: Portraits of Resiliency in Lyantonde, Uganda

Using a wide variety of art media, artists from the United States and Uganda will come together to work with 12 individuals from the villages of Lyantonde to create collaborative portraits that explore issues of stigma, poverty, and resiliency to obstacles. These pieces will be compiled and displayed both in Uganda and the United States to raise awareness about the complexity of life in Lyantonde.

Partnering Organization: Participatory Organization for Rural Development Initiative (PARDI) (

Project 2: Common Threads: HIV/AIDS Quilt

In this project, individuals will design and create squares for a quilt that illustrate a collection of stories discussing the personal effects of HIV/AIDS. Facilitators will teach basic skills in textile art and sewing. The intent of this project is to facilitate the growth of self-sustaining art groups and to support grassroots networks in these communities.

Partnering Organization: Participatory Organization for Rural Development Initiative (PARDI)

Project 3: Art Therapy at Prince Primary School

An art therapy program will be developed for middle school students at Prince Primary School. The focus of the program will be recording and preserving oral history and educating the community about local family traditions and life lessons through symbolic stories.

Partnering Organization: Prince Primary School

Project 4: Multi-dimensional Photography Project

This project will give adolescents the opportunity to express their identity through the art of photography. Group members will be asked to document people, places, and objects that are meaningful to them. These photos will be arranged and constructed using other materials into a multi-dimensional collage.

Partnering Organization: Participatory Organization for Rural Development Initiative (PARDI)

Project 5: Pin-Hole Photography Project

This project gives students an opportunity to appreciate non-traditional photography by exploring the art and technique of pin-hole photography. Students will build and take photographs with pinhole cameras made out of tin cans, giant boxes, and matchboxes.

Partnering Organization: In Movement (

Project 6: Recording/Producing/Promoting of Bitone Troupe Album

In this project, the voices and music of the Bitone Troupe will be captured, produced, and promoted as an album to benefit the Bitone Troupe Children's Home in Kampala, Uganda. The Children's Home provides abandoned and orphaned children with a safe environment to live, study, and mature while learning traditional arts from accomplished local artists.

Partnering Organization: Bitone Troupe (


RXH said...

Has it been almost a year since I met/saw you all before your leaving for Uganda summer 07?! I just read all the posts so far. Congratulations on all the work! I can't wait to hear what is in store for PFP in 2008! (you like the abbreviation for this blog?)

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