x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Life lessons: Tanaz Dizadji

The director of Start, a non-profit group that brings art programmes to disadvantaged children, shares her life's philosophies with M.

Tanaz Dizadji is the director of Start, a non-profit group that brings art programmes to disadvantaged children in the Middle East.
Tanaz Dizadji is the director of Start, a non-profit group that brings art programmes to disadvantaged children in the Middle East.

Tanaz Dizadji was born in Tehran and studied in London. She is the director of Start, a non-profit group that brings art programmes to disadvantaged children in the Middle East. In association with Art Dubai, Start's 2013 scholarship programme is now open.

1. Never give up. The feeling of accomplishment kicks in only when you have to really work hard to achieve your dreams. My father always told me that if you fight for what you believe in, then your ambitions will always prevail. I think about this whenever I hit a major obstacle and I smile about this whenever he turns out to be right.

2. Never underestimate the power of art. It was three degrees in Lebanon, no heating and no electricity in the refugee camp where the Start workshop was held. Twenty-two enthusiastic children poured in, eager to learn about Pablo Picasso. I guess even through the darkness there is art.

3. An ant hill is created by thousands of ants each doing something little. A small difference is still a difference and it is important to help those in need. People often question the point or greater impact, but if you can help change a life even in the smallest way then that truly means something. At Start, we follow this philosophy, encouraging those to nurture creativity in our children and make the world a different place.

4. Be forever grateful and never take life for granted. I'm so thankful to be in a job that reminds me of this every day. The children we work with face severe mental and physical disabilities or come from very sad backgrounds filled with war and hatred. Despite this they welcome the volunteers and international artists into our workshops with respect and passion. These children set the example.

5. Trust and loyalty are key. These are the paramount qualities I strive for and value most.

 

As told to Jemma Nicholls

 

Start offers art scholarships to refugee children, young adults with special needs and children who will benefit from the Dubai Autism Centre programme. For more information, visit www.startworld.org. Art Dubai runs from March 21-24. See www.artdubai.ae