Joanne Tawfilis is the co-founder of The Art Miles Mural Project. Together with her
husband, Fouad Tawfilis, she hopes to encircle Egypt's great pyramids in 2010 with twelve
miles of murals
"To See With Your Own Eyes"
"To see with your own eyes" is a statement that took on a new
meaning to me today. I have been trying to juggle many things since my physical move to
Egypt. Based on all the activities we have initiated in the past, and because of all
things that have mushroomed into glorious super projects mostly because of the TEAM we
work with, including family and friends and those in faraway places like Japan, Pakistan
and Italy and France and Ft Walton Beach, Florida, and Samoa and
I could go
on and on.
"To see with your own eyes" came from reading a description by the
Captain of the Schooner Liberty that has already made an ocean journey delivering aid to
Haiti and based on the devastation he and the crew saw are beyond being passionate about
returning. In fact, the schooner along with the sailing yacht "Tranquility" are
headed across the 1,000 mile pre-rainy/hurricane season weather as I write, to bring more
medicines, baby formula, power generators and other supplies, and with it 2,000 pair of
Art Miles Shoes of Hope, to those even more desperately in need there.
For me however, working from our humble little place by the sea in
Alexandria, Egypt, I am also seeing many other things with my own eyes that compelled me
to sit down and write this. Some of what I am seeing is how through the past 12 years, is
not only what Fouad and I have feel we have given, but also how much so many have given to
the Art Miles Mural Project in terms of time, energy, personal resources, and most
importantly love and passion. None of us are wealthy, some of us actually struggle and few
of us are funded, (if any), relying mostly on donations of materials, time and service of
others. And recently "with my own eyes" this phenomena has also happened with
our Art Miles Shoes of Hope, Bridgepoint Education, Volunteer San Diego, Endangered Planet
Foundation and for this "leg of the journey with shoesboth the Tranquility and
Looking at the tons of facebook photos provided by Volunteer San Diego and
their extremely dedicated staff, "I have seen with my own eyes" what can be
accomplished on another level. Imagine the immense task of organizing a corporate event
where employees take the time to paint shoes
but then, I have seen "with my own
eyes" up to 10,000 pair of shoes painted in Seoul, SKorea and actually was able to
accompany the MIZY Center and Director General of UNESCOs National Commission and a
major corporate/government sponsor to Cambodia to deliver the shoes and open a national
childrens cultural center. I "saw with m own eyes" the look on the faces
of Ally Woodard, our 10 year old, Art Miles Shoes of Hope Ambassador" and the knowing
look of doing good things for people in the eyes of her parents, as she raised money to
buy shoes, organize painting events and then deliver them herself across continents around
the world during her summer vacation.
Looking back, "To see with my own eyes" Dr. Rosenstein and his wife
hand packing individual pairs of shoes in grocery store donated fruit/vegetable bags,
loading them and taking them to another delivery point, was also a heart-warming feeling,
and conjures up so many other incredible Art Miles Shoes of Hope images, that even with my
eyes closed, I can see with my own eyes, the kindness, generosity, the too many moments,
too many numerous events to mention , but from my heart, can feel the joy of those who
gave, those who painted, those who packed and shipped and delivered.
To see with my own eyes, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
proudly exhibit and create and interactive Art Miles Shoes of Hope event, reinforced my
belief that "high art" can be found on "high top shoes" donated by
major companies like Starbury, Skechers and Spris.
To see with my own eyes, the realization that teenagers could be moved by the
plight of child soldiers and those suffering in refugee camps, others dying with aids, and
other illnesses, including war wounds, earthquake wounds, and starvation, gives both Fouad
and myself encouragement to encourage moving this forward. And though we are focusing (or
trying to) on breaking through the bureaucracy and apathy of government and corporate
collaborative support for the MURAMID 2010 event, we see with our own eyes, how organic
this whole project has become.
and of great importance, "to see with our own eyes" the look
and light on the faces of the receivers who are given these shoes and with their own eyes,
read a note inserted in the shoes that becomes a most treasured possession, often times,
as meaningful as the shoes themselves. It is that HUMAN connection of knowing someone
cares. Knowing that through their eyes they have reached out and taken a few moments or an
hour to trade places in their mind and offer words and pictures of hope and cheer.
For me, and for Fouad, we say, "Indeed, it is really meaningful to see
with our own eyes". . all that we have done and continue to do, TOGETHER. Thank you
each and every one of you who saw and feel this awesome adventure and ever so important
part of the Art Miles Mural Project.
March 16, 2010
see also :
The Hero Mile