Aramatou has created 821 pieces of artwork since arriving at the hospital 15 months ago. Aramatou is from Mali and she came to the hospital in August 2013 with legs bowed and feet turned completely backward . We have already written about her before. When she arrived, Aramatou was solemn and withdrawn. She has been through a lot in her life, and it was clear that she needed healing that went beyond surgery on her legs. In the past 15 months, everything about her has turned around. After several surgeries and a lot of physical therapy, her legs have been straightened out and her feet are facing in the right direction. Though she still has a ways to go in the healing process, she has come so far. Aside from the physical transformation, her spirit has changed in the process as well. She is no longer solemn or withdrawn – she is the life of the party! Aramatou is so full of joy that it permeates throughout the hospital and is completely infectious. It is hard not to smile when you’re around her.
Aramatou has been coming to art therapy sessions since day one, and from the beginning she has been making beautiful drawings. She loves to draw flowers, and has been drawing flowers from the start. She draws very interesting flowers, with intricate motifs and designs. Today we sat down and counted – she has done 821 drawings. That is a lot, and actually the real number is higher, because she has probably given away around 100 drawings to staff, visitors and other patients. Aramatou doesn’t have any money, and obviously cannot buy presents for anyone, but she regularly gives away drawings. She is proud of her work, and enjoys giving it away, and even with all that she has given away, she still has 821. She said that she wants to reach at least 1,000 before she returns to Mali. She also said that she plans to take her artwork back with her when she is done here so that she can decorate her whole house with it. Her artwork has been an important part of her stay here in Niger, and she wants to show her family and friends back in Mali the work she did during her long stay in the hospital.
We decided to lay out all of her work on the ground so that we could see it all at once. It took us over an hour just to spread it all out. When we first started lining up the drawings, I thought,”Uh oh we’re going to be here all day.” But I’m so glad we did it. Aramatou was so excited to see her work laid out in that way, and it was visually striking. She kept saying, “I can’t believe I did all this.” It was a powerful image, not just of the fact that she made some pretty pictures, but of all that she has accomplished, and of the fact that she has changed, she has grown and she has blossomed just like the flowers that she loves to draw. After we finished taking pictures of her work she said that she is so excited to be able to show people back home what she has done while she’s been here. It has given her a confidence a boost and she now knows that she is capable of so much. Aramatou will be leaving with new, beautiful legs as well as a whole stack of beautiful drawings.