Art Relief International designs and implements artistic outreach programs for many different groups in Chiang Mai, all of whom struggle to be accepted in the community because of their backgrounds. We work with various other local humanitarian organizations to offer ARI's featured programs to their participants.
Our focus groups include:
- Displaced Burmese refugees and migrant workers
- Indigenous hill tribe groups
- Single mothers in crisis
- Direct and indirect victims of HIV/AIDS
- Gay and transgender community
- Children with disabilities
- Incarcerated women and juveniles
- Adults with disabilities
- Male sex-workers
- And more!
Art is widely recognized as an extremely valuable tool in working through past trauma, as well as a means to communicate hardship and create new purpose. ARI works to ensure all of these groups can fully enjoy the power of art as a therapeutic and a community process through our program.
Here are a few of their stories. If you want to meet more artists, join us as a volunteer in Chiang Mai! Email:
for more details.
Every Wednesday morning ARI makes a visit to Hope Home, a local home for children with varying disabilities who need extra care. The abilities of the children vary greatly but all of them respond positively to sensory stimulation including sound, touch, and sight.
The first time Data touched paint, he wasn't sure what to make of the cool wet substance. He observed it on his hands and was shown by Wichai, another friend at Hope Home, that it could be applied to paper. Soon both hands were exploring the texture and since then he hasn't doubted the fun he can have with this form of expression. We've seen him cover his whole body in paint, chase bubbles and submerge himself in a box full of fluff. During each visit he is trusting that we will expose him to something new and exciting while keeping a big smile on his face. Data continues to teach us to be fearless, accepting and open to new possibilities and we look forward to seeing how his interest in art grows and expands.
Every second Friday, ARI visits the Healing Family Foundation, where adults with varying physical and mental disabilities spend time weaving in order to earn an income while supporting each other in a loving friendly environment. Each member of the organization and its participants are very supportive of each other, and having the carefreeness of children at play we always have a really great time with them.
One of their artists is Ae. During our workshops at Healing Family, he stays very focused on his artwork and is always enthusiastic about the project we are working on. He produces some beautiful art and always has a great attitude, joking with fellow members of Healing Family and greeting us respectfully when we make our visits.
When volunteers come to Healing Family for the first time, they are all impressed by his skills and I was also affected this way during our first visit there. He's a very happy person and as the Healing Family Foundation is quite close to the Volunteer House, we sometimes pass by him in the street. He always greets us very happily.
Ae lives with his father in Chiang Mai and sells his own paintings at Healing Family and at a Café near by to support and to take care of his father. Ae shows us how art has a positive impact on his life and inspires us to be happy.
-past 6 month ARI volunteer