50 children did art therapy at the Art and Solidarity Camp in Deseşti

50 children and young people aged between 12 and 21 years, beneficiaries of the programmes of Hope and Homes for Children Romania participated in the 12th edition of the Art and Solidarity Camp, held between 21 and 28 August in Deseşti (Maramureș County). Children and young participants benefited from guidance from 50 artists - painters and teachers in the UK, Ukraine, and Romania - who become mentors for a week. The camp was organized by the Orthodox Parish in Deseşti in partnership with Hope and Homes for Children Romania, and was supported by BRD Groupe Société Générale and the company’s employees through the programme "Super People for Super Chance".

This year's theme was "The tradition in the rural world". Painting workshops were held daily in various places in the village of Deseşti where young people worked under the guidance of established painters from Ia;i, Constanța, Argeș, Baia Mare, Sighet, Bacău, Neamș, as well as from Ukraine and the United Kingdom . Guided by their mentors, the young artists have given in to their imagination and created paintings depicting the rural world, showing in the most beautiful choice of colours and situations the beauty of Maramureș.

Each year come to Deseşti children from institutions or who are at risk of separation from family, and who thus have had the chance to develop their imagination, artistry, and skills or even to find their vocation in an oasis of peace and joy. The 50 children who took part in the art camp in Deseşti come from small group homes developed by Hope and Homes for Children, from foster care programmes and from child separation prevention programmes that the foundation runs in Iași, Neamț, Botoșani, Bistrița, Cluj, and Maramureș. During the seven days, the young people had a rich programme, with many funny artistic and cultural activities. 

On the first day, participants made a trip to the Merry Cemetery in Săpânța, where they presented the work done in the previous camp. On Thursday, August 25, it was launched the first issue of "The Deseşti Village Chronicle", published under the aegis of the "Nichita Stănescu" Cultural Association and the Romanian Orthodox Parish in Deseşti. Every night, young people and their mentors gathered around bonfires, where they watched and listened to the guest local artists. People sang and danced along with music and dance ensembles from Sighet and listened to poems read by actor Claudiu Pintican from Baia Mare. For the first time since the camp project started, it included three other workshops, in addition to the painting workshops: a workshop on survival skills, one on juvenile delinquency, both in collaboration with the Romanian Gendarmerie, and an artistic workshop on songs and folk dance from the region of Deseşti.

"It was a fruitful edition, which has benefited also from the presence at the opening of His Eminence Justinian, Bishop of Maramureș. The growing number of participants and their enthusiasm pleases us a lot. Even if the camp is finished, the project will continue with several exhibitions of the works of the young artists and of the works donated by their mentors" said father Ioan Ardelean, the initiator of Art and Solidarity Camp in Deseşti.

For some the camp was a week of relaxation and meeting with exceptional mentors, while for others the it meant the discovery of their vocation. Doru Bogar, a young man that Hope and Homes for Children has supported since childhood, attended this camp for the first time when he was 11. Now he is in the last year of high school and says here he discovered his passion for painting and his future career: "For me the painting camp meant a great opportunity. Here I found what makes me happy, what makes me dream. Without the guidance of mentors who helped us every year in the camp I could not discover my passion for design." The young man is now a certified designer of a specialized art school in Baia Mare and so far he has had 3 launches of personal collections of clothing.

Otto Sestak, national director of Hope and Homes for Children Romania says that the Camp at Deseşti became a social and cultural phenomenon, where the juxtaposition of the two concepts, art and social solidarity, was fulfilled by the presence of over 100 participants in the edition that just ended. "In the 12 years since the Art and Solidarity Camp was created, more than 300 children in child care in Romania achieved, together with over 300 renowned artists, around 1,000 works of fine art. The result of 12 years has been constantly used for the development of the camp and for supporting the small group home in Hoteni and subsequently that of Deseşti, and for making popular childcare based on family and community run services as an alternative to institutionalized care" said Otto Sestak.

As every year, Deseşti villagers were involved in organizing the event wholeheartedly. They hosted painters and clothed participants in authentic Maramureș garb to attune them to the local community. The Art and Solidarity Camp started 12 years ago with the idea of father Ioan Ardelean, the soul of this project which grows from year to year. Now the camp has become a veritable school of art that promotes mentoring relationships between some of the most talented contemporary artists and some of the most vulnerable children and young artists from the child protection system. This year, the participation of children and young beneficiaries of the programmes of Hope and Homes for Children Foundation was supported by BRD Groupe Société Générale.