This blog post was written by artist and long-time friend of Rising Star Outreach, Laura Lofgreen.

When I started the project of drawing 100 girls from India for the coloring book My 100 Daughters with Rising Star Outreach, I was overcome with the beauty and presence of the girls of India. Studying photographs of their faces, clothing, hair styles, jewelry and customs, I felt such love for those I’d never met. The first time I painted one of my illustrations, I felt like their skin should be the color gold. I searched out metallic paint, and after painting their skin a lovely brown, I tinted it in gold as a symbol of their great worth and value. I was later told what the color gold meant in India – it was a sign to them of their worth as well.

When I first spoke to Becky Douglas about the idea of a coloring book, she said, “Laura, India is a coloring book!” She told me about the bright colors, how the landscapes and people are vibrant and eclectic. With this in mind, I started to envision the magic of India. If my little girl Eden loved to color princesses, angels, fairies and mermaids, the girls of India would love that too. Beautiful landscapes, friendly animals and playful insects started to present themselves as well. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with a peacock, a tiger, elephant and more?

Because of poverty and dire conditions difficult for us to understand, it is imperative to help the children of India. I asked myself, “What if this was my daughter?” The truth is these are all our daughters. It is our duty to help provide food, health care, education, shelter and even more, love, hope and a bright future. Rising Star Outreach is an absolute miracle. Because of persistence and vision, they have made the relationships necessary to be in these leprosy colonies to minister to those in need. How I thank and appreciate all those who work with Rising Star Outreach to make this possible.

It was especially touching when I started an illustration of a woman who had lost much of her hands and feet because of leprosy. At first, I had the idea to draw her perfect, with 10 fingers and 10 toes, but as I was finishing the illustration, I felt impressed to erase her hands and feet and draw them as they really were. I had spent much time drawing her hands and feet perfect, so the act of erasing them was very emotional for me. As I started to cry, I could only imagine the pain and loss she had experienced. Her toes and fingers were taken by such a horrible disease, it didn’t seem fair. I stared at the picture of her and reverently started to draw the unique and deformed shape of each hand, the curves where her fingers used to be, the heels of her feet, how humbling the process was.

My 100 Daughters was published in 2017 and is available on Amazon. This spring 2021, Rising Star asked if I could illustrate several coloring pages for the boys. We could present them in Colors of Hope, a virtual online coloring event. I am the mother of five amazing sons and as before, the same question entered my mind, “What if these were your boys?” Oh, how I love and pray for them. I asked for photographs of the little boys and to my delight, I saw them playing sports, climbing monkey bars, jumping, hanging out with friends and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. They are just like my boys who can’t wait to do their best, be silly, study, run fast and light up the world. I hope you enjoy coloring my interpretation of who these boys are and how through sponsorship, we can all play a vital and necessary role in their bright future.

Love you all.

You can follow along Laura’s journey by reading her blog My Dear Trash, found here! Laura (center) pictured with Rising Star Outreach Founder, Becky Douglas (left) and Rising Star Outreach Chief Operating Officer, Amy Humphrey. 

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