Todays lesson required some space inside the little bamboohut, that had become a colourful place during the past few weeks. We were unfolding the plasticfoil on the ground and took away all the benches. Today we would all sit on the floor to paint the bedsheets that we had brought all the way from Germany, because we were told that they would be quite expensive to buy in Cambodia (during the securitycheck on the airport i had secretely wished for them to open my bag and find two bedsheets and wodden beads on their way to South East Asia).
After the bedsheet was put on the floor, the children took on their now well known raincoats, that were partly torn from the lessons before as they are made of really thin plasticfoil and rubberbands.
The children circled the white cloth and waited for instructions. The paint was filled into small bowls and put in front of them. Each one of the 20 children was holding a brush in her/his hands, ready to go.

The bedsheets are supposed to be painted with images or thoughts they have towards the feeling of being home, being secure and safe, feeling comfortable and happy. These feelings painted on the cloth would create the “outside-wall” of the tipi, that we want to build out of it afterwards. This tent should create a new space of security for them, a small place, where they can hide and actually be protected by their own thoughts and associations towards the feeling of being home that they painted.
While translating I already recognised that the real idea didnt really get through to the children. There was an understanding for drawing their home and something that makes them happy, but it didnt become clear, that their images were just supposed to create a new space as a tent for them afterwards, that would allow these feelings.
I was told, that in Khmer there is no word for “feeling home”, that there is just the word for “home”.
In the end the idea was understood as they started painting places in nature that made them happy, hammocks, that would allow them to have a quiet moment or flowers, that were so beautiful to them, that they gave them a feeling of comfort. The trainee teacher and me were asking for the meaning of the images painted and heard of stars at night, that made them sleep better and chickenfights in the village, that made them laugh.
The cloth got more and more colourful and i joined the silent bunch of children painting. We were sitting shoulder on shoulder and saw the colours fit together to a big mixture of thoughts and memories.
When the brushes were cleaned and the raincoats were put back in the big ricebag we hung up the bedsheet to dry. The usual afternoon-thunderstorm made its first noises from far.
I looked at my tshirt that i was wearing. A mixture of red and blue had created a nice little mess. When i left the school i saw the teachers pointing at it, smiling. I smiled back and held up my thumb. Thats how it is supposed to be like!

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