Debra Dee Art | Mural for an Orphanage in Cusco - Peru

Mural for an Orphanage in Cusco - Peru

November 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

One of my favorite experiences during my recent trip to Peru, was the opportunity to paint a mural for an orphanage in the fascinating city of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire located in the Andes

Maybe I believe in the power of manifesting since this project arrived at the perfect moment during my travels and was exactly something I had envisioned doing. I was  sitting drinking tea in the amazon jungle, reading through my lonely planet travel guide book and looking for information for volunteer work in the  Cusco  area. I struck up a conversation with a lady and her daughter sitting near, they were from U.S.A and they had actually been living and working in Cusco for quite a few years, teaching and fundraising for orphanagages. How perfect, especially since I was having no success with my guide book,  So I closed my book and asked if I could help out in any way – I explained that I was an artist and suggested that could buy art supplies and teach,  Then she mentioned that she had been looking to gift the orphans a colorful mural but has not yet found a volunteer who has the skill The next day I flew back to Cusco and visited the boy’s orphanage to discussed visual ideas for the mural. The manager, Jeremy, had a basic graphic design that he wanted me to include in my composition on and some writing in German explaining the meaning of the design. So  early morning coffee shop next day I found a friendly German man to help translate the meaning of the text. To summarize the text talked about the sun’s incredible energy and about gods creations, mentioning such beauty and forces of nature and all that all thrived under this bright light. Requesting love and compassion amongst human souls and allowing healing for all. So my attempts were to create a cheerful bright nature inspired image with animals native to Peru cradled in the suns light

Talented new artist friend of mine Davis Torres,  helped me with the entire creative process.

Davis, grew up through the care of ELIM orphanage, he now speaks fluent English has an education and he is encouraged to follow his creative talents too -I love his art.  As we were painting together that week, he shared with me his story of his past abusive family life that had forced him to take to the streets and how tough it was to survive out their so young and emotionally lost. He explained to me how grateful  he now is to have been rescued and given  a chance of a decent life. Davis now works at ELIM orphanage helping to counsel the children staying here, encouraging and inspire the children through his own story so that they too will have a second chance to create a enjoyable life.


It was such fun project and I absolutely adored the kids I interacted with.   Witness them giggle amongst themselves as they proudly and enthusiastically painted the walls in bright colors really warmed my heart. Most of the orphans I met had run away from very abusive homes and were found alone begging on the streets of Cusco, from ages as young six years old with their daily chore being one’s of survival. One of the cute little girls I danced with was only 4 years old when her mother chopped two of her fingers off in an anger rage.

“The life of street children is very hard. Day in, day out, only in the Peruvian city of Cusco more than 1000 street children have to fight for their survival, the streets are their home. They sleep in the cold and the rain; they have to steal for their food. They often they use drugs and don’t go to school. ELIM offers these children a shelter and a place to rest. It also gives them love, protection and a chance for a new beginning. Besides sheltering the organization offers children from extremely poor background a place to stay in the afternoons. They also provide meals to street children under police custody”


In the photo  below, Jeremy the director is to my left and my apprentice art buddy Davis is on my right .

 Such an overwhelming amount of love pours out of these people hearts at ELIM orphanage. Jeremy Cuba, the director and his mother Nilda Escobar the main fundraiser were so thrilled with the mural we created that they threw me a leaving party. All the orphans danced routines and sang songs they had practiced, (a group of the boys danced to Michael  Jackson Thriller which just made my day!)  After all the performances I got gifted hand made cards from the girls and we ate lemon cake and drank lemonade and had a disco.  The adults encourage joy and laughter which helps there healing, these kids learn to live love and enjoy expressing themselves




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