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Art show hands the paintbox to underprivileged children

A collection of sketches and paintings by children from Aziza’s Place, displayed at Meta House
A collection of sketches and paintings by children from Aziza’s Place, displayed at Meta House. Eli Meixler

Art show hands the paintbox to underprivileged children

When Phnom Penh centre for underprivileged children Aziza’s Place asked 22 of their young students to paint a picture, they weren’t sure what to expect.

The result was a series of colourful drip paintings, detailed sketches of worn out tables and abstract landscape pictures that give unique insight into the lives of their creators.

The images, by children and young people aged 6 to 20, went on show last night at German cultural centre Meta House and will be displayed until August 27.

The exhibition accompanies the Why Poverty Film Festival, showing films that shed light on individuals living under difficult circumstances overseas and here in Cambodia, where 20.5 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to World Bank data from 2011.

“There is always the assumption that because you are poor, you lack opportunity,” said Aimee Cheung, director of development at Aziza’s Place, which provides a variety of opportunities for the children including extra-curricular classes such as art, dance, music and karate.

“If you can see where they come from and if you can see the children at Aziza’s place it is actually quite scary,” she added.“Our children are massively intelligent, given the right resources. They all have different kind of needs – I can tell that they are all going to go in different directions”.

Short documentaries series The White Building from Sa Sa Arts, about the Phnom Penh building built in the 1960s as social housing and now home to hundreds of families, will be shown on Friday as part of the film festival.

“The documentaries are about people who live in the White Building, so about the villagers there, one villager, one film,” said Kourn Lyna, residency director at Sa Sa Arts.

“We want to let people understand that the white building is not a very dangerous place and that everyone who lives there wants to live there”.

Why Poverty Film Festival also marks the union of Meta House with South African NGO Steps, an organisation that produces documentaries about poverty in 28 countries.

The series will show an interesting variety of tales from developing countries to the often overlooked cases in developed countries, such as the United States, England, Germany and other European countries.

Creativity Not Poverty runs until August 27 and Why Poverty will run until Friday at Meta House, check their website for times.