One year ago Playing to Live! began. We cannot believe the amount of work, children and communities reached, and what has been conquered in a mere 365 days. We want to thank all the incredible volunteers, our clinical team, our partners in Liberia and South Africa, our board, and all the absolutely incredible people who have made this possible. The best way we know how to share with you about our incredible journey is to give you the break down of this last year:
And now and to the future:
We have grown exponentially throughout this year, and this is such a short snippet of what all has developed. We are looking into our second year of existence, and our excitement grows with ideas, opportunities, and continued need in high affected areas Africa and beyond. We also want to thank our special volunteer Laurel Morrison, who is in Liberia at this moment supporting the ending months of the RESH UNICEF grant.
We cannot do this without you, and we ask you for your support. We have received so many requests for services and partnerships, but we are beyond capacity in terms of funds. In order to grow we need your support. Will you be our Creative Super Hero?
Jessi returned from Liberia and we were uncertain how Playing to Live! was going to continue. At this point we had raised $1,853, something we were so grateful for but unfortunately covered very little of the costs we needed to build our program.
As we began to plan and build, we were honored and extremely grateful for the women in the ICC unit who continued our programming with the kids in isolation. We saw this as a HUGE step forward. If the people we were working with saw promise in our programming, enough to carry it on their own, we had created something that was necessary and sustainable.
Back at home we began getting an influx of Peace Corp volunteers, who had been sent home due to the epidemic. Playing to Live! was really becoming something more than anything we had ever expected and we were thrilled.
The strength of the caregivers was astonishing to me, and in 4 weeks I had new 'sisters'. We had bonded through the work, with what became a project " Playing to Live". The Ministry of Gender asked if we could consider making this into an organization that worked permanently in Liberia through the crisis. They were so happy with the work with the children.
By the start of November, what was meant to be a small project turned into an official nonprofit organization! Alexis became the founder and I the co-founder. We would finalize our activity guide with the partners who had supported us. The vision and hope was set as Ebola still waned in the country. Our story was featured by Harvard University in two articles, including: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/10/life-in-quarantine/
In two months all of this happened. Return make to learn more about this adventure...
In 11 days we will be celebrating our one year Birthday, and boy are we excited!!
To prepare for this celebration we will spend the days leading up to it sharing stories from each month, so let us begin by how this all began.
This video you see started IT ALL. I (Alexis Decosimo) had spent the summer of 2014 in frequent tears of helplessness watching a country I loved fall into the trauma of Ebola. Then I saw this video!
One of the most devastating parts of watching the Ebola epidemic unfold was knowing that, due to the community fear of contracting Ebola, children were being left to grieve with little emotional support. Everyone was afraid of everyone and children were being orphaned and left without support.
As an art therapist, I saw this video as a beautiful reminder that, with the proper support, children are extremely resilient and expressive arts is an effective way of supporting their healing and resiliency.
I immediately called my comrade from my time in Liberia, Jessi Hanson, and told her we needed to find a way to bring expressive arts therapy programming to Liberia. By simply supporting communities to sing, dance, and play, we could provide ways to build resiliency and hope.
Within a few days Jessi had a plane ticket to Liberia, and I was building ideas towards what this might look like.
Stay tuned as our story continues....
Read about how we use yoga therapy, play therapy and art therapy techniques to help children in Ebola affected communities.
We have been so excited to share with you a new article about Playing to Live! that has been written by the website UP worthy. UPworthy is a positive news website and has dedicated stories to show positive programs that have come through during the Ebola crisis.
We are honored to be featured! We need your help to share our stories! We are thankful for all the support we continue to receive and continue to look for Creative Super Heroes to help us make a difference.
Welcome to Our Blog!
We will be providing you with stories of the communities we support. The children and their caregivers featured in this blog have provided consent to share their art, pictures and stories.