South African expat Mariska Nell Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai resident’s painting of a child she met during her trek to Mount Kilimanjaro will be auctioned in Louisiana in the US on September 15 to raise funds for the treatment of a three-year-old American girl who suffers from multiple sulfatase deficiency (MSD).

MSD is a condition that affects the brain, skin and skeleton. Symptoms include deterioration of tissue in the nervous system, which can lead to movement problems, seizures and slow growth.

Dubai-based South African expatriate Mariska Nell learnt about the little girl Willow Cannan and the campaign to save her two months ago when she met her parents Amber and Thomas at a restaurant in Ireland where she was holidaying.

The meeting

“It was very crowded. A couple were kind enough to offer my husband and me two empty seats at their table. As it turned out, they were Willow’s parents who were travelling the world to raise funds for research into this degenerative disease. I was touched by their efforts and wanted to do something myself. I decided to donate my painting of a child I met at Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for Willow and MSD,” said Nell.

Shedding light on her artwork, she said: “Last September during my Mount Kilimanjaro trek, I stopped at a local shop where a young girl wearing a bright coloured dress caught my attention. She was very friendly and bubbly. I fell in love with her and took her photograph. When I returned home, I could not take her out of my mind, so I decided to paint her picture.” Nell took six months to complete the 91x61cm painting in acrylic. It’s a masterpiece in monochrome colours – black, white and grey.