I am Berta de la Dehesa, a Spanish woman trying to find a way to align what I think with what I feel and do, sometimes with more success than others. It was March 2013, I was living in Cambodia in a small village in Takeo province teaching English, when I first met Christina Sassayannis. We shared a wonderful weekend in Kampot with some friends. I clearly remember our first conversation when she told me about what she was doing, a project called Through Waters that aimed to open dialogues about water through Arts. She told me about her experience in China and the exhibitions and the awareness work she was developing; maybe it was the influence of the golden sunset river water, or just that she has one of those personalities that inspires you, but I knew right away I wanted to participate somehow in this dialogue.
Committing for me was very easy, as it was building the team. I needed a person like María Peñalosa to complement my professional experience as an art therapist, actress and teacher. I told her about Through Waters and we shared our approaches on the cultural value of water and the power of art as a tool for education and social development. At that moment, she wanted to turn her life around to do her bit to contribute to the social change that is being nurtured, so, deciding to bring her experience in management through marketing and her legal background to the project was easy for her too.
Setting up the project was quite a different story. First, it took a while finishing our commitments and organizing everything so we could finally meet in Phnom Penh. We officially started working in July 2013 and we haven’t stop for a day ever since. Contacting artists, researching on the water sector in Cambodia, learning about other working lines to merge with, getting to meet with organizations, and defining how we would land TW in Cambodia has been an amazing odyssey that we will never forget.
In January 2014 the last part of our team arrived. Nolasco Marante, a deaf photographer, specialist in Spanish sign language and children counsellor, joined us to carry out his wish of joining the cooperation world with a double purpose: opening the doors of the project to deaf Cambodian people and capture the adventure in images.
Finally, we would never be biking, setting exhibitions up and opening dialogues without so many people’s support… our outstanding families and our friends, the old ones and the new ones, from Spain, from Cambodia and from countries all around the world. They have given us personal care, professional advice, logistical sustenance, ideas, energy and lots of love… without them we wouldn’t have been able to water our project making it grow. Thanks a lot to all of them.
Now we are ready, everybody is on board, let’s start, ARWATERENESS begins.