What is more fun than a brand-new children’s playground?
A brand-new playground with a huge colorful mural of friendly animals!
That’s what awaits young patients in the playground of CURE Children’s Hospital of Niger (CURE Niger). On the side of a permanent shipping container, patients can enjoy a beautiful mural of Noah’s Ark in vibrant colors, measuring 1,032 square feet. It’s art on a mission to teach children about God’s love.
A Partnership that Brings Smiles
The mural is a wonderful result of a fruitful collaboration between Sahel Academy and CURE Children’s Hospital over several years. Sahel Academy, founded in 1986, is located in Niamey, the capital of Niger, Sahel Academy is owned and operated by SIM.
In 2012, the students from Sahel Academy started to conduct their community service at CURE. They were observing medical procedures in the OR (especially those that were looking into a medical career), and they were engaging weekly with the patients during art therapy. Painting the mural was another opportunity to serve CUREkids by bringing to life the stories they heard from the Bible. The Sahel Academy students enjoyed playing with patients, dancing, and doing art. They were a great encouragement for the patients and mothers, and they loved spending time with the patients outside on the playground.
“The mural significantly brightens up the space and creates an amazing environment for kids to have fun, despite having to be at a hospital,” says Tom Rideout, a student at Sahel Academy.
The mural brings joy to patients like 18-year-old Balki, who received treatment at CURE for bowed legs. “Here I can see some of the animals God created! There are so many!!”
“We chose Noah’s Ark as a theme to inspire children to believe that they are included in God’s family; that they matter in spite of their disabilities,” says George Găvruș, CURE Executive Director.
Gift of Art
The artist behind the artwork is Anna Pederson, a 29-year-old Canadian art teacher at Sahel Academy. With a little help from her enthusiastic and creative students, Anna painstakingly worked on the project from December 2021 to August 2022.
“I’ve never done anything quite that large, but it’s been fun and rewarding,” she says.
Anna started dabbling in drawing as a 15-year-old teen in Canada. Over time, she says, she discovered that she could “create stories out of paint” and use the gift of art to bless people.
“I like to use what I have to do God’s work,” Anna shares, adding, “It’s cool how this opportunity came up.”
What’s also rewarding, Anna says, was the enthusiastic response of her students when she invited them to participate in making the mural. “I wanted to give them that experience,” she explains, adding that a total of 20 students volunteered to participate. “It was crazy, but a lot of fun,” she says.
One of the students, Aida Găvruș, says of her experience: “It’s a creative way of communicating a message of inclusion to all ages. I am grateful to be a part of this initiative through my small contribution.”
The Noah’s Ark mural is the newest wall painting to bring joy and hope to CURE Niger patients. Other murals can be found in the ward, operating room, and consultation area.
To learn more about how CURE Niger cares for patients through Play Therapy, click here.
CURE Niger’s mission is to provide every child living with a disability the physical, emotional, and spiritual care they need to heal. If you have questions about becoming a patient or a partner with CURE, please contact us.