LOCAL artist John Mausio believes in empowering and rehabilitating former patients of the St Giles Hospital.
And with this in mind, he began a program that educates mental health patients on drawing, painting and craft work.
Mr Mausio, 33, has about six people who are learning the trick of the trade from him. "I started this program last year and the biggest challenge I face is trying to eradicate the stigma that surrounds the people I deal with," he said.
"I felt that in order to get them to contribute positively to their communities, we should involve them in our daily activities and by sharing my knowledge in painting and drawing I am able to reach out to them."
The program known as the community recovery outreach program saw an artist from the group selling two of his artwork during an arts exhibition held last year in the country.
"We not only concentrate on painting and drawing alone, we also create work on jewelery making, learning to play different musical instruments and also handicraft work.
"I am encouraging former mental health patients to come on board and be part of this project to make a difference in the community," said Mr Mausio. Hailing from Hapmafau Village in Rotuma, he believes that his work has been blessed in so many ways, as he started from scratch trying to build the project.
Mr Mausio is one of the five judges selected to be part of the 2012 National Arts Exhibition.
"It was hard trying to start the program.
"There were no funds involved when we started and whatever art materials I had we started with that," he said.