The Memory Project
800 beautiful pieces of art delivered to our children.
August 29, 2012 - Dominican Republic
The Memory Project, founded by Ben Schumaker in 2004, connects children around the world through the power and love of art. When Ben was volunteering in Guatemala in 2000, he met a man who had never owned a picture of himself; this experience inspired Ben to create an organization that would provide underprivileged children with not only photographs but quality portraits of themselves. He named it The Memory Project. Currently, Ben collaborates with high school art classes in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia by providing photos of children from third world or developing countries to the students. Then the students draw, paint, or otherwise create portraits based off of the photos. The final step is getting the portraits to the children, which was the goal of this visit.
The Memory Project is connected with all of our NPH homes and in fact, this is the second time that the Memory Project has visited the DR home. Ben was unable to be a part of the first visit back in 2005, so he was more than excited to see the home, meet the children and personally give them their portraits this time around. In total, Ben was able to provide each of our 220 children with four pieces of art. With the help of some volunteers, Ben distributed all 800+ portraits in the span of a weekend. Furthermore, he made the effort to capture photos of the children with each portrait to send back to the artists who created the pieces. The volunteers and staff were in awe of the project, its organization and its overall originality and success!
Casa Santa Rosa showing off their portraits.
By far one of the most rewarding aspects of the project is experiencing the reactions of the children as they receive their portraits. Ben shared, “I personally enjoy seeing the initial reaction of the child. It can be a very cool moment.” Many children were outwardly excited and emotional about their photos and needed to show them to all of their friends and caregivers. “After they received the portraits, all my boys were running up to me to show theirs. There was just so much excitement in their eyes and genuine happiness,” comments full-year volunteer, Madelon Morin. Other children simply reacted with authentic smiles as they analyzed and admired their portraits on their own. And yet others planned what they would do with each portrait, whether it was hang it up on the wall in their house, gift it to a godparent or family member, or just hang onto it for themselves for awhile.
From our youngest toddlers to the oldest teenagers, each pequeño really enjoys and appreciates their new artwork. The nearly 150 children who were here in 2005 for the first visit also had the unique opportunity to be able to compare their new portraits with the ones from six years ago and show off how well they had cared for them.
On behalf of all of our children in the Dominican Republic, we cannot thank Ben and the Memory Project enough for their continuing support and dedication to our home and NPH as a whole.
Communication Officer and Project Manager