Last Words From SaveWorldDraw
It was January 2001 that Save World Draw started it’s first big project in which I had to travel to Belize. Though the website didn’t get up and running until I actually returned because, back then, access to the internet was hard to find in Belize, not like it is today. I received an internship from the Belize Audubon Society. My job was to design and build an educational exhibit that teaches local children about conservation of migratory birds, in addition to highlighting the local endangered Jabuir. The Jabiru is the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere. It was a six month tour-of-duty in Crocked Tree Village. I’m proud to say to this day bus loads of Belizean children with their teachers visit this bird sanctuary and meet with a guide from the Belize Audubon to learn and enjoy this exhibit.
Shortly after I returned from my internship in Belize, 9/11 hit. I felt it was imperative to continute developing art oriented projects for the purpose of creating a better world and to also find a way to help save our birds. I started volunteering with WildCare, a bird and animal rehabilitation center in San Rafael. I was trained and put on the hummingbird team to rescue injured hummingbirds and raise baby hummingbirds to be released back to the wild. It turned out to be one of the saddest but most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done in my life, spanning for more than a decade.
Hummingbirds don’t do well in captivity. It breaks their spirit. They need to fly free. I believe when hummingbirds are injured and sheltered to heal, that many die more from being caged than the injury itself. It’s another story when it comes to baby hummingbirds because they are still learning to be hummingbirds. But what a challenge it was to help them develop to their full hummingbird potential so they could be released back into the wild.
During this time, I also was honored that Sy Montgomery wrote about two of my baby Allen’s hummingbirds in the hopes that more attention would be given to hummingbird protection and conservation. Over time her hummingbird chapter in “birdology” became it own little book called ‘the hummingbirds’ gift”, a true story of two sweet baby hummingbirds.
Because my husband, Russ, helped me with caring for the hummingbirds, I was also able to continued SWD projects, too. Many of the projects I did centered around working with children to teach them about the environment and wildlife. But some of the larger projects I did through SWD were formidable. I felt like a fish out of water. The needs for many of theses destitute communities was overwhelming. So often people don’t understand the amount of work and supplies it takes to accomplish what they were asking for. I guess they saw me as a person that could take what I considered the bare minimum and create something magical for them. But I understood it was all they had. Now when I think about it, that might be the best way to understand what art is and why the arts can bring a new dawn to an impoverished community.
My experience with working in foreign communities was limited, but my skills as a sculptor, with the arts in general, along with some cultural sensitivity I tried to show, always saved me. Anywhere you go, children are always curious about artist. They are interested to see what artist do. So that made it worth all the effort. Now, when I look back on it, the most important thing I did for these children was to create a path for creative thinking that is invaluable to have. No matter where I worked, be it taking teenaged girls at Daraja Academy on a nature hike in Kenya to draw and write about wildlife, or to helping a poet/artist in Pakistan publish his first book, or to help buy used binoculars for kids to see close-up snubbed nosed monkeys in China, people were always enthusiastic about what we were trying to do. Another amazing organization was the rescue dogs trained to save large endangered mammals in Brazil by being trained to smell their scat.
And there are many, many more from Roots and Shoots, baby rhinos, lions to amphibians in Vietnam.
Here is a link to some of them: https://www.saveworlddraw.org/about/
Early 2016 I stopped facilitating all SWD programs. My elderly parents in New Hampshire needed more help with things. Now that they both have passed and we survived Covid, I look forward to just concentrating on my own artistic endeavors. My attitude is all around meaningful, quiet fun with a splash of spiritual humility now. I also have my pollinator gardens and hedgerows to tend to.
Believe it or not, there is a place that old websites retire to. Sort of a website graveyard. SaveWorldDraw will be archived there in a week or so.
It was just important to me to let you know all this. I wanted to thank everyone for all the support and encouragement you given me for all these years.
With bows, I salute you 🥂
Brenda Sherburn LaBelle