Afghani children receive portraits of Memory Project


Saba Ali

The portraits that students make for the Memory Project are based off of individual pictures.

Every year, the National Art Honors Society and the Art Club work on the Memory Project to create individual portraits of youth across the world who have suffered from challenges such as extreme poverty or abuse. In the spring of 2018, they sent around 10 portraits to children in Afghanistan. This year, the students will start making the portraits in the early winter after they are matched to a group of youth.

The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization that matches art teachers and students to groups of youth around the world who are struggling with hardship. The organization sends pictures of the youth to the artists, who then create the individuals portraits with the pictures. Their goal is to show the children that people care for them and provide the children with a portrait that will serve as a childhood memory in the future.

Elizabeth Litwin
Litwin created a portrait of an Afghani boy using graphite.

In previous years, the student artists have created portraits for youth in countries like Ukraine and Bolivia.

Throughout the year, the student artists and Art Department Chair, Ms. Laura Milas, spend a few months gathering money to fund the transportation of the portraits. This funding consists mostly of art sales of the students’ works. For the Afghani children, the student artists and Milas donated around $4,000 to ensure the delivery of the portraits and to help the children in need.  After they have gathered enough funds, they start the process of creating each portrait.

“What’s really magical is that when you look at the eyes and the face of a child for such a long time, you really get to know that child,” Milas said.

Elizabeth Litwin, senior artist, drew a portrait of an 11-year-old named Mohammed with graphite.

“I really enjoyed creating art with a purpose outside of my own enjoyment,” Litwin said.

In the previous year, the Memory Project organization encountered some difficulty getting the portraits to the Afghani children. They intended to deliver the portraits during the summer of 2018. However, because of Taliban activity in the surrounding area, the organization had to take a small charter plane and deliver the portraits later in the Fall.

However, the trouble of getting the portraits to the children was worth the reward. In a video sent to Milas from the founders of the Memory Project, the Afghani children are seen opening their portraits with joy and excitement.

“Seeing the children react with so much joy reminded me of how a small act of kindness can do so much,” said Lara Hayes, senior participant in the Memory Project.

Any art students who want to improve their artistic skills while making the difference in the life of a child is encouraged to join Art Club and the Memory Project’s cause. Those who don’t want to make an artistic contribution can donate monetarily to the Memory Project here.