Collage by the author
Collage by the author

This post was written by Len Caballes, volunteer.

Freedom, whether it is from persecution or internal conflict is a concept that is surprisingly foreign to people today. When one thinks of the word, one may gravitate to freedom borne out of military conflict or even different forms of persecution.


In this case, I am writing about freedom from the perspective of someone getting a glimpse of freedom from internal conflict. I volunteer for Art for AIDS International, an organization that hosts art workshops, raises awareness about the AIDS epidemic, and encourages the younger generation to express their inner creativity on the way to raising our global consciousness about the persistence of the AIDS epidemic.


This piece is inspired by my experience at one of the workshops that Art for AIDS International was kind enough to provide to its volunteers. The time I got to spend getting to know its founder, Hendrikus Bervoets was profoundly enlightening and liberating.


Our workshop centred around collage art and Hendrikus talked us through the process and made the experience as effortless as possible. His rule for the day was to not ‘overthink’ the process – rather, just let the moment dictate what story our piece would be about.


This simple rule for me was a very important element in creating my piece. To use art (whatever form it may be) as the medium for expression is a powerful form of therapy. Hendrikus in fact encouraged us start from ‘where we were’ at that very moment of the day – instead of being constrained by rules, he moved away from that convention. The US National Library of Medicine and The National Institutes of Health mentioned in their site that, “Art as a language of therapy, combined with verbal dialogue uses all our capacities to find a more successful resolution to our difficulties”.


I want to stress that Art for AIDS International does not provide any sort of therapy, but rather the experiences during the workshops provide an avenue for expression – an experience that is both empowering and liberating for any individual. This simple slice of freedom had a tremendous effect on my overall mindset for that day – even as I write this and recollect my experience I am brought back to that feeling of empowerment and liberation when one is afforded the choice to freely express themselves.


Even if you’re not artistically inclined, but are driven to donate time to this worthy cause, I highly encourage you to partake in one of the organization’s workshops or contribute to its online presence. Often, we forget that freedom comes in many forms – the small respite my experience provided me did wonders for my mental mindset, I’m quite confident that it will do the same for you.