Ani Buk’s troubled patients find peace of mind through drawing, painting, and sculpting.
by Elaine McArdle
photographs by John Rae
The young couple were recent immigrants from West Africa, relishing their new life in New York City, expecting their first child, and happily sharing in the American Dream. One Friday afternoon, a month before the baby was due, the woman was home alone and answered a knock at the door. A man dressed as a postal worker asked her to sign for a package from her homeland. Moments later, a phalanx of undercover police officers burst into the apartment with guns drawn. Arrested on drug charges, she was thrown in a cell with drug abusers and prostitutes and denied the requisite phone call to arrange for help.
Her husband spent a frantic weekend searching for her. When he finally found her, on Sunday evening, the couple learned that drug-sniffing dogs at customs had reacted to the package, which police then delivered in a sting operation.
It turned out the package contained harmless herbs sent by an African midwife to aid the woman’s pregnancy. The charges against her were dropped, but the emotional trauma of a weekend in jail wouldn’t fade so easily.
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