That afternoon I made a coffin for a prematurely born baby. The baby was born lifeless at Camp Eleonas. There was sorrow and my heart was heavy, but I also felt privileged that I was asked to make a box. A few hours later I met all those wonderful people at a cultural center who create an essential part of life. And I felt joy.
After the daily huddle, Andreas (the project leader of the Elea project) came to me and asked if I could make a coffin for a stillborn child. Immediately I said yes I will do that. It also had to be ready that day. I canceled the work I had planned. I spoke with the coordinator of the workshop and said what was going on and that I would not pick up any other work.
The coordinator of the workshop did not know for a moment how to respond and what he could do. This indicates that the work we do are normally assignments that are related to facilitating the living conditions of the camp’s residents. And not to do with loss and death. When a “coffin” is requested, it is understandably difficult to imagine.
The sizes were not entirely clear yet, so that was an estimate. Born too early was the only thing I was told. Andreas also doesn’t know. Decided to keep 50l x 40b x 40h. There was not enough usable wood available. A few of us were already on our way to get new pallets. We couldn’t wait for that, so I dismantled a project I was already working on. Also went looking for a nice lid which I also found in chipboard with a veneer layer on it. We have selected the best possible wood.
We finished the box with a lockable lid in 3 hours with interior lining. The lid could be closed with screws. Erin, Florent and I had a good feeling about delivering the box. It looked well cared for. The father of the child and he was very moved and grateful with the box. It was a gift to him and he saw that it was made with care. His words were “You care”.
I started focused on this job with a straight face, and looked past and through everything and everyone it seemed. This must be a perfect box. Upon delivery I had a sense of pride, honor and warmth. I remember I was asked once to take pictures of my deceased father-in-law, for my mother-in-law and Jeanette. The emotional movement of today was the same as then.
Due to the rush job, I was unable to accompany children to the Victoria Square Project (VSP). I had signed up for that but had to cancel the departure by metro. I went later because I also had an appointment with Leonora from VSP. Arriving in the street, I was pleasantly surprised with the scent of blossoms. Finally no exhaust fumes, smoke and smelly containers. The street is quiet no cars.
The children of project ELEA were busy with karaoke and painting and drawing work. They were supervised by the employees there. It seems to me that the people who work there all have an artistic background.
They look very expressive, almost a bit flamboyant. Special glasses, headgear and somewhat different style of clothing.
Leonora I had met at the camp earlier took me into a house up the stairs and into a room. People were sitting there after it turned out to be waiting. I was introduced to Maria with the comment “I think you two should talk”. That was an exciting opening 🙂
Of course we first exchanged something about ourselves and talked about the rooftop garden project of organization earth what I have been working on and going to do so in may. Maria works at KHORA engaged in providing services to refugees. Think, among other things, of education. Maria is looking for space for KHORA to give lessons. And there it was, the connection! The school where I worked on the roof gardens has been vacant for years! So there is supply and demand. We have exchanged data and she will start working on it. Perhaps organization earth and KHORA can help each other.
Ready to go outside again and have a drink, they said “who is next” so I asked next for what? Then it became clear to me what everyone was waiting for. Plaster breast prints were made in another room. Everyone in the room where I was were “models” for this artistic piece of work. I got carried away and I raised my hand and said it’s my turn. Before I was aware of it, I stood there with my bare body covered with Vaseline.
Once done I was led into a small room and I sat on a chair. For the first time in my life I was casted with plaster!
I was told that I had a beautiful breast, “marked by age” and “beautiful lines”. I don’t know if I should be happy with that;) I still try to remember what I experienced, what feeling I had. I may have been looking for embarrassment within myself, but there was none. I actually feel comfortable with my torso and people looking at it.
There will be an exhibition in May, and hope to be able to visit it. In the evening when I got home I stepped into the shower to scrub off the Vaseline. The excess did not feel pleasant.
Once outside, Eleonora and colleagues sat there with a glass of wine and snacks. I introduced myself to everyone, and I ventured into the world of artistic people. Very expressive! While enjoying a drink and a snack, I had a wonderful evening. Amazing about what occupied them.
Relatively deep subjects were discussed and they asked me about my age sometime in the evening. They gave me an age of 45 🙂
When I said goodbye, I was hugged again by a guy whose name I forgot. It is a small world and a lot of hugging. I like that.
I came home with a wonderfully satisfied relaxed zen feeling. Where the day started with a heavy sad feeling, it ended with an enlightened and feeling. Two extremes!