In September 2007, Hobart sophomore Ali Sana, from Pakistan, was deeply affected by a terrorist suicide bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Rawalpindi. It was near enough to his school, Roots College International, in Islamabad, to cancel classes for the day. Faced with helplessness, confusion and anger, he searched for something that would not only help him cope, but begin to raise awareness of the terrorism besieging his nation.
Sana, who has been painting since he was a toddler, turned to art and created “Peace Brushes.” The student-led organization at Roots College International creates posters and art pieces to educate about the incidents and impact of terrorism in Pakistan and also raise money for innocent families victimized by it. This fall, Sana hopes to expand the initiative by bringing it to Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“There was a blast and then everything was just gone. I knew the people who died -students and parents. Suddenly my friends were orphans. Now the terms ‘suicide bomber,’ ‘terrorism’ and ‘death’ were disturbingly real. I knew I had to do something.”
What he did was quickly create enough paintings to fill an exhibit. The idea then came to him that he would use them to raise funds to prevent terrorism and violence in Pakistan, support the victims, and raise awareness. A key goal, Sana says is to refute the underlying belief that all Pakistanis are terrorists.
Sana believes by sharing the feelings of the effected and helping them get on their feet again, Peace Brushes could ensure a more secure and brighter future for these people whose families have forever been broken by terrorism.
“These paintings will help to deliver a message of peace. I hope to promote awareness in the students who are doing the art as well.”
By continuing Peace Brushes as an active initiative on campus at Hobart and William Smith, Sana plans to make it bigger. His passion for the organization came back to him full force when he attended the President’s Forum with David Oliver Relin who discussed his book “Three Cups of Tea.” Relin’s work as an investigative journalist has helped to increase awareness about critical human rights issues in the Afghanistan and Pakistan regions.
“He is inspiring,” says Sana, “his mission is my mission.”
More information about Peace Brushes is available online. http://peacebrushes.com/