Auckland, New Zealand

 
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It all started on a beautiful Auckland summers day under a few very special oak trees in Cornwall Park. I'd invited a few of my friends' children and my little niece to a bookmaking picnic and asked them to draw and write short stories that would be compiled into the very first Colour Our Story colouring book destined for 50+ young friends in Kasese, Uganda.

My goal for this first book exchange was to help support creative opportunities for OrphFund – a volunteer-based organisation close to my heart that helps abandoned, orphaned and vunerable children around the world.

Together the children and I embarked on a global, creative adventure, exploring new terrritory with wild imaginations, free spirits, giant hearts as our compass and a sense that wonderful things were going to happen!

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I requested that they simply think about their own part of the world, who they are, what they love and what they would like to share, in the form of outline drawings with short stories, with children in other faraway parts of the world. Their eyes lit up as they got to work on their unique, heart-felt creations. Soon after this event, my partner Jonathan and I would begin our journey to Melbourne and Uganda, meeting with more excited children and collecting their precious drawings and stories.

Whilst we were housesitting in Melbourne for a month (Feb 2016), we had the pleasure of spending some time with more beautiful children at Kerrinuir Primary School, thanks to my special teacher friend and fellow travel lover Karen Louise. We collected all their drawings and stories, some of which were added to the chosen Auckland children's creations, and from there the Auckland & Melbourne Colour Our Story book came to life.

Melbourne, Australia Bookmaking Event:

Before we knew it Jonathan and I were packing our suitcases with 50+ individual pencil cases, lovingly filled with pre-loved school and art stationery by our friends at Pencils Community, and 50+ Auckland & Melbourne Colour Our Story books. We were then on our way to a remote OrphFund orphanage in Kasese, Uganda that I'd previously visited and is very close to my heart.

Kasese, Uganda Bookmaking Event:

Following our return to New Zealand and the creation of the Uganda Colour Our Story Books (version 1 & 2) I got the Auckland children together again to colour in the wonderful Uganda Books from their creative friends on the other side of the world. Their response to the Auckland & Melbourne books and the Uganda books was so encouraging and gave me the fire I needed to keep going!

While sharing the beautiful diversity of children from such different backgrounds and parts of the world, through drawings and stories, I hope to also show them that despite these differences, we are all connected – we all grow up with hopes and dreams and are all deserving of bright futures.

I would like to thank all my friends and family who came along with their children and showed their support. 

Michelle Euinton