The Art of Caring

Our Badgerdog Creative Writing Program dispatches local writers as teaching artists to work with people of all ages and skill levels — third-graders, high-schoolers, thirty-something professionals, and seventy-something retirees. We believe everyone in our community should have the opportunity to work with a writer, and to tell their own stories.

Thanks to the generous support of St. David’s Foundation’s Health’s Angels, we can offer writing workshops to a group of selfless (and often stressed) Austinies — men and women who provide ongoing care and support for spouses, children, or parents who are experiencing illness. The support from Health’s Angels has allowed the Library Foundation to partner with Mobile Art, a local nonprofit that provides art workshops for the aging population in nursing homes, elder daycares, and Alzheimer’s respite programs. Together, we designed a writing & art program for caregivers and care-recipients, one that allows caregivers to form a community and create literary art. At the same time, care-recipients work with Mobile Art volunteers to create beautiful pieces of visual artwork. The goal is provide quality arts enrichment, a space for caregivers to share their experiences, and meaningful activities for people experiencing physical or mental challenges.

Today on Unbound, we’re excited to feature one of our caregiver / care-recipient pairs, Rizwana Mela and her daughter Uzma, who both attended our latest class early this fall at Mike’s Place (a program of Meals on Wheels and More). In their workshops with Mobile Art and Badgerdog, Rizwana and Uzma made stunning works of art (visual and literary!)…

For the Love of Animals (collage) by Uzma Mela
For the Love of Animals (collage) by Uzma Mela

My Frog Story

There was a section of the stream inhabited by frogs. I remember the loud, noisy frog voices that started in a chorus when I passed by during the April sunset walks. It became a routine. The chorus would start as I passed by and would continue along my side of the San Diego Creek, which flowed on my left as I traveled home. As I walked, I could hear the chorus at the same distance on my left, as if the chorus was playing for me. One day, as I walked by and the frogs started their chorus, it dawned on me that they were saying hello. I stopped and said, “Hi, sweetheart. How are you?” The chorus stopped. There was silence.

Rizwana Mela

Nesting (assemblage of various materials) by Uzma Mela
Nesting (assemblage of various materials) by Uzma Mela

When I Say Taqwa

Sitting in the plane
All buckled up
Ready for the journey
To the unknown

Setting the plane to autopilot
Submitting to The Will
Jumping off a cliff
Landing in a whirlpool

When I say Taqwa
This is what I mean

Rizwana Mela

Self-Portrait (watercolor) by Uzma Mela
Self-Portrait (watercolor) by Uzma Mela

Self-Portrait in a Silk Scarf

Lost, I was lost
In a lush green labyrinth

Gone, I am gone
Covered and protected

Found, I have found
A hidden, fragile glass door

An exit to the deep blue seas,
A world of shining

Rizwana Mela

Abstraction with Horses (ceramic and glaze) by Uzma Mela

To learn more about the Library Foundation’s program for caregivers and care-recipients, email

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