Inmates making art to help orphans in Uganda
Lost & Found

About the Inmates and their art

Creating art for the Ugandan orphans began with one inmate who read the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. He became a teacher to some of the other inmates at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon. When the inmate artists who had been gathering on Friday nights to create art in a windowless room inside the prison heard of the orphans, they wanted to help, but what did they have to give?

Many had been in prison more than half their lives. Some would never be released. They wrote to prison officials asking if they could donate their art to be sold with all proceeds going to the orphans of Otino Waa Children's Village in Uganda. Many of the prisoners say when they make art, they feel a sense of purpose they haven't felt in decades. As one inmate artist said, he hopes what they are doing will inspire others to find ways to help each other. Another said he was surprised to realize how little effort it took to help the orphans in Uganda.
Here are some excerpts from a letter written by one of the inmates:
"After talking with Yohannes a couple of different times. He ask me to think about joining his art program to help the kids in Uganda out by doing and having my art, and others sold to raise money for them. Well like 99% of all others who first join program, I thought what is in it for me. What can I get out of this for me..."

"... For the first time in my long life I feel that I can and will make a difference for someone other than myself. Last month I spent 283 hours doing art for this program. There never seems to be enough hours in a day now. My friend yohannes comes by and makes me stop take a break and makes me rest."

Read his entire letter, in his own handwriting, here.
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