“We initially declined the opportunity to move to Bahrain. My Spanish husband, our daughter and I were living in Madrid at the time. The idea was to stay there permanently as we wanted to be close to his family.

When his employer in Spain closed down, I urged my husband to find out if the job in Bahrain was still available. As luck would have it, they said they had been waiting for him to call back. Deep down I felt this was to be our next step. It has certainly proven to be a wonderful and expansive adventure so far.

Fascinated by the art and culture of this region since seeing an exhibition in London years ago, I prepared for our move by reading ‘My Beautiful Bahrain’, a collection of poems and short stories by the Bahrain Writers Group about making this island their home. As a traveller and artist, I enjoy exploring the theme of home as a physical and creative space. I like looking at the culture that we share rather than the differences we have. Some of the stories I read were moving and filled me with a deep longing to visit this special place.

I left my family home in Canberra, Australia when I was in my early 20s. Since then, I have lived in many different kinds of homes: tents, caravans, beautiful homes, small homes, Victorian terrace flats and currently a villa that feels palatial and luxurious. I have learned not to try and recreate a home that I have left behind. For me it’s about moving forward to the next place and embracing it with all my strength and enthusiasm. I’ve become a global citizen but occasionally, on a bad day I feel homeless. I wonder how our daughter will see this transient childhood. I am sure she will weave it into something beautiful and grace-filled.

Alongside my professional life as a commercial market researcher, I have always done voluntary work. I’ve mostly worked with young people in a creative way that builds life skills and confidence. Since arriving in Bahrain, I have been conducting art sessions with teenage boys at a school for students with special educational needs. When choosing projects for the students, I look at how I can develop their interests and self-worth. I believe we are all artists and I want to elevate their work to help them gain more independence and team work skills.

It makes me proud to see the silhouettes they’ve painted on the gym wall. We up-cycled wooden pallets into vertical gardens and the response was amazing. Look for one if you ever pass by the British ambassador’s residence! Through the sales of the vertical gardens, we have raised enough money to pay for a 10-pin bowling session and a trip to the cinema. Next we’ll be working towards an exhibition of their art work.

I’m so grateful for the time and space Bahrain has given me to nurture my mind, body and soul. I enjoy yoga, swimming, netball, playing piano, good food and attending cultural events. I also enjoy the company of some very kind hearted people. This island’s beauty, traditions and stories inspire me. I find it peaceful, yet exciting. It’s a very special place to live and I feel very privileged to be here.”

Story By Marie Joubert

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