Who We Are
Art Relief International (ARI) addresses the pressing needs of various marginalized groups in Northern Thailand, offering people the chance to express themselves through art.
We believe in providing a voice for individuals by exploring various creative means, including visual, performance, and experimental arts. Our mission is to promote expression and cultivate the creativity that lies inside each individual. We use art to create an atmosphere of inclusion and belonging where often there is none.
There are over 120,000 Burmese migrants and refugees in Chiang Mai. They come in search of freedom; fleeing oppression, fear and brutality. Yet when they arrive, the reality is that they lack many of the basic rights for education or employment. Adults have little choice but to work long, grueling hours on construction sites, whilst children work through the night selling flowers to tourists.
Art Relief International has stepped in to provide these people with a way to express their hardships and have their voices heard through art therapy.
There are several humanitarian groups within Chiang Mai that have done tremendous work to improve the lives of adults and children living as refugees or migrants. Art Relief International works closely with these groups to provide these much-needed fun, therapeutic art therapy sessions.
By contributing, you will be helping displaced people like Wanna. Today, Wanna is telling her story through art. She’s working on a miniature paper house as part of a workshop put together by our volunteers called Model Village Visualization. “I love art,” Wanna says. “I love painting. It’s another way to tell my story.”
Wanna is the daughter of a Tai Yai couple who live and work at one of these construction camps. She doesn’t know how old she is: “I’m around 11-12 years old,” she says. “My mom didn’t inform the officer about my birth.” She moved from Namjing, Kashin State, Burma four years ago. They have been stuck ever since in low-paying and dangerous jobs at a construction site in Chiang Mai. Wanna’s parents cannot even afford school, no less quality healthcare.
She continues, as she glues paper onto her house template: “I want to have my own house and [to] have a good job so that my parents don’t have to work hard.” Her determination shows in her words. She has set her sights high, and hopes to one day share her story with the world. Her little house is complete as we finish our conversation: bright, colorful, and full of hope.
What We Need and What You Can Do
In order to continue these therapeutic workshops, ARI needs the resources to do so. With money raised, we will purchase new and exciting materials for workshops, and start saving for a much-needed van to transport our volunteers to our workshops. We will also be able to hold more gallery exhibitions to display the works of these people, and share their stories with the Chiang Mai community.
We can do a lot with a little: even a donation of $5 will make a difference.
Please donate what you can, and help spread the word by posting this campaign on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.
Thank you. Your help will make a huge difference to the lives of the many displaced people that need our workshops.