A blessing to from many to many. Culture Vultures has reached its’ goal of hanging 1000 origami birds at the Mohamed V Hospital in Sefrou. Born from the vision of Japanese Volunteers in Morocco, hours were spent sharing, teaching, and learning the unique skill of origami. The traditional folding art that pervaded Japanese culture now finds a lively and healing home at Sefrou’s large, centrally located public hospital. Art in hospitals has shown numerous benefits for the well-being of patients and staff alike, and these flocks certainly add a light, colorful, and distinct flair to the otherwise white and barren hospital walls
From start to finish, it took fifteen months for the project to take flight. At Japanese Day in March 2016, three JICA Volunteers- Mutsumi Noguchi, Haruko Yokote, and Ryo Yamaghuchi- kicked off the origami craze at Dar Attamani in collaboration with the Culture Vultures community of artists, artisans, locals, expats, friends, and visitors. The afternoon was spent folding and creasing paper birds, and over 200 cranes were made in the first sitting by a multicultural mix of people. Next there was a group of Coventry University students who passed through Sefrou and made their mark on the Mohamed V Hospital by hanging the first flock on the third floor hallway. A few months later, a second flock appeared and transformed a stairwell. Mostly recently, volunteers added the remaining birds to boost existing flocks. Strung on clear plastic string, hung high and out of reach from kids, paper wings flap, soar, and fly throughout the hospital.
The cranes reflect diverse colors, materials, patterns, and designs. From shiny gold to two-toned green and blue to flowered to polka-dotted to bright pink to popping purple to starred and stripped papers and even recycled chip bags, the flocks of simple birds catch the eyes of passersby. Staff at the hospital is delighted by the enhancement to their work-space. Patients comment on the beauty and happiness that the birds bring. Culture Vultures Artists in Residency tour the art at the hospital to gain inspiration for their own community engagement. Sefrou council members and health delegates have also visited and acknowledged the impactful work of Culture Vultures at the Mohamed V Hospital.
Countless creative and caring hands contributed to the making of the 1000 paper cranes installed in two locations at the Mohamed V Hospital. Aesthetically the appeal of the origami is obvious, yet the birds hold a deeper than surface level significance in Japanese culture. Mutsumi, JICA Volunteer 2015-2017 and dear friend of the Culture Vultures community, says it well: “1000 paper cranes mean peace, recovery, and a long life.” Offered as a blessing to the hospital, the birds aren’t the only collaborative artwork found there. A stained glass window, a collage of cherry blossoms, an Amazigh-inspired tapestry, and bicycle tires woven with fabric are examples of other stunning installations by Culture Vultures. The partnership between Culture Vultures and the Mohamed V Hospital has grown immensely in the past year and a half, and the future looks bright for more community art, give-back, exchange, and collaboration.