A note from Heather...
I have made it my life's purpose to support a group of children in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. We provide food, shelter and education to the children we support. But, part of this means providing infrastructure in their community that will help the children, and also those who are their caregivers. The old saying "A rising tide floats all boats" pertains to this endeavour on many levels; If I am able to raise my profile as an artist through showing my work and telling my story to the masses, it is my experience that people's hearts open and they become engaged with my purpose. It may be through a child sponsorship, purchasing artwork, a monetary donation to the projects, etc. This helps me to continue supporting the children directly and their community through special projects. The betterment of the children's community will lead to more opportunity and a healthier life for the children. As the children prosper, they in turn will give back to their community in ways in which they are able. This will ultimately lead their community out of the poverty cycle in which it has been mired for years.
We have established a Non-Profit Corporation called The Art of Courage to support the children and their community. The Art of Courage is a platform for storytelling through art to create awareness, educate, advocate and raise funds to change lives. Please visit the website at www.theartofcourage.ca
About the Wall of Courage
This piece of Haynes’ art is the culmination of 20 plus years on a creative journey that has taken her to the some of the world’s most despairing places. One place in particular is the city of Goma in Democratic Republic of Congo.
A quest inspired by Lisa Shannon’s book A Thousand Sisters led Heather to Goma in 2011 in search of women’s stories on which to base a new series of art. There, she witnessed the impact of unspeakable cruelty and systemic injustices at every turn. She vowed to the universe to help in whatever way she could, intent on finding some possible means. A missed opportunity to interview a tormented Rwandan woman resulted in a fortunate incident that ultimately turned Heather’s world on its head. What seemed like a casual encounter with Congolese gentleman Kizungu Hubert on the patio at Ubumwe Hotel in Gisenyi, Rwanda, was instead a life changing moment for both Haynes and Hubert.
Since 2012, Haynes and Hubert have worked tirelessly to help DRC’s most vulnerable populations. The children portrayed in Haynes’ Wall – with the collective moniker Tchukudu Kids – are orphans under Hubert’s care. One year to the day of Haynes’ and Hubert’s initial meeting, the children moved into a new home built with funds collected from Haynes’ friends and family. It was result of Heather’s relentless conviction that helping was the only right and proper thing to do.
It was those children who became the inspiration for a body of work that is Wall of Courage, an eighty panel installation honouring the resilience of the human spirit. Through a series of touring exhibitions, Wall of Courage has been the impetus to raise awareness and funds in the fight to eradicate poverty through education and healthcare, in communities in and around Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I chose to paint 81 children for this piece because that was number of children under Kinzungu's care when their new home was finished,” says Haynes. Wall of Courage is 80 panels, each measuring 24 x 36 inches. When assembled it measures at 40 feet wide by 12 feet high.
For three years, Heather worked on Wall of Courage, and she has now created a documentary film that shows the inspiration, creation and realization the project. In 2020, Wall of Courage was invited to the prestigious UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills, to anchor the Human Element of "Emergency on Planet Earth: In A TIme Close To Now", curated by Arthur Lewis.
A decade later, Haynes continues to create social justice art in order to support her efforts to support these children.