Memory Project

Rachel Kogan, Staff Writer

Using many different colorful mediums, members of the Art Honor Society made personalized portraits to raise the spirits of orphans all over the world. This year, over twenty paintings and portraits were created to be sent to orphanages in Ghana.

“It was really an honor to participate in this project,” said sophomore Ashley Meyer.  “I am so happy to be a part of a program that makes kids in less fortunate parts of the world smile.”

Students, either alone or in pairs, recieved photographs of the orphans in early February.  Over the next few months, they worked on the portraits both at home and at school.  The Human Relations Club donated $200 to the students in order to cover necessary fees.

“The students have done incredible work,” said art teacher and Art Honors Society advisor Ms. Miranda Best.  “They are really beautiful portraits.  I’m really proud of their hard work.”

Ben Schumaker initiated the Memory Project in 2003 after volunteering in a Guatemalan orphanage. Many of the orphans that Schumaker cared for had suffered from abusive relationships and various forms of domestic violence.  Schumaker realized that, more often than not, the orphanages did not have many possessions, especially those representing joyful moments in their childhood.  Schumaker wanted to change this situation by giving the orphans a keepsake to remember forever. He called upon students around America to help spread the happiness by creating and sending personalized portraits to the orphans.

“This organization is truly inspiring and proves that if you have the heart to make a change, you can make a difference,” said Meyer.  “The founder of the Memory project saw how he could help and wasn’t stopped by being ‘only one person.’ He kept going.  Now look at how big this project’s gotten!”

As of last year, over 50,000 artists sent portraits to the Memory Project Organization. These portraits, in turn, were sent all over the world to 34 countries.  The organizers of the Memory Project go to the orphanages to distribute the portraits personally.  After the process is complete, participating artists each receive a picture of the orphan they painted posing with his or her portrait.

“The students responded to creating a beautiful keepsake for a person who doesn’t really have anything that makes them feel special,” said Ms. Best.  “That’s what this project is about.  It leaves something for those children to commemorate the happiness in their childhood.”