I’m about to board a plane to Tblisi, Georgia. I’m talking about the other Georgia, y’all — The Republic of Georgia. It’s an 11 hour flight. I’m going to do art projects with several groups of underserved children in a couple of different facilities in the villages of Chiatura and Kitski.
This story began in 2007 when I was meeting with Swami Jaya Devi in a one on one. She asked me, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to use art to help people.” She told me to start going to KidsArt. I told her I had been thinking about that and it sounded like a great thing to do. She said, “Actually go do it.” I had always thought that helping people by using art sounded like something I wanted to, but for various reasons had not actually done it. So here was my chance. And I decide to take it.
I started going to KidsArt the next Sunday. It was a natural fit for me. I loved doing art with the kids. But Sometimes back then it would be quite intense. The condition of some of the children was heartbreaking and I didn’t like seeing them in pain. I would go from anger to sadness witnessing their pain. Through the process of this seva and the guidance of Ma and Swami, it started to shift to compassion no matter what was going on with the kids.
Fast forward to last year. I got a job working with people struggling with substance abuse, where I actually get to use art to help people in a whole new way. (That’s another story.) So I walk into the HR office and I see walls full of pictures of children. I quickly learn that Lynn, the HR manager does yearly mission trips to the country of Georgia to serve children in need and has been for 17 years with Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. Georgiamissions.org. Lynn and I became fast friends and she loved what I was doing at Kashi with KidsArt.
One day she was talking about planning her trip and she said, “Why don’t you come with and do art with the kids? If you want to, I can make it happen.” And with an absolute “Yes!” I was on my way.