“As soon as I hold a paintbrush, I start to remember my child and my heart starts pounding. Everyday my painting brings back those memories. So full recovery is never going to be possible for me. But…I will always carry the stories of my children with me. When there is joy, it’s not just an illusion. If something makes me happy and I feel good, then I remember my children and the flavor of the rice that we ate together.”
Mahmud is a fisherman and painter who lost four of his children and more than half the population of his village. Mahmud and the other survivors from his village have been placed in an emergency shelter for displaced persons. He helps around the camp by painting signs and hopes to start a painting class for the young children. He believes that art can provide them with an outlet to express their emotions and process the trauma they've experienced. Through a small seed grant he is able to begin working with a group of children at the shelter. He searches for other ways to use his talents and discovers a strong sense of purpose in painting the villages that were severely hit by the Tsunami, to preserve their memory and honor those that were lost. In going to the sites where the villages once stood, he paints them in a series of three that captures life before, during, and after the Tsunami. These opportunities enable him to reach out to others, but he recognizes that loss will continue to shape his every day life.