Make art, not war

Half of the 120,000 refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp are younger than 18 years old, and the non-profit AptART is providing an outlet to help them express their emotions in a creative way. The civil war in Syria has sparked violence in many Syrians and several refugees are in a state of anger and frustration over their current situation. Samantha Robison and Nicholas Renn co-founded the organization Art and Prevention through Art, or AptART, in 2011, which focuses on helping children who are placed in vulnerable situations regain hope through artwork. AptART provides art materials for children to paint and draw on buildings and communal areas. The hope is that through art, children can feel a sense of belonging and learn from each other. Channeling their energy towards creative expression and away from violence helps the community get through a time of war.

Since January, Zaatari has grown four times its size due to the influx of people fleeing their homes in Syria, making it the 5th largest city in Jordan. The Zaatari refugee camp is one of the largest in the Middle Eastern country, with new groups of emigrants who are escaping the ongoing civil war in Syria entering everyday. Leaving the privacy of their homes and the familiarity of Syria is an emotionally difficult process. Furthermore, negative emotions stem from the fact refugees are not allowed to leave the camp – even to work, according to The Artolution.  These feelings of uselessness and boredom, coupled with the tragedy of leaving their homes behind, can create violent attitudes and feelings.

Painting and designing shared spaces and the tents refugees now call home is a way for many to personalize their space. Although they are only 10 miles from the place they once referred to as home (many Syrian refugees are from Daraa, the province where the uprising began), families are living with the idea that the camp might be their home for a while. It is important for them to feel at ease, and allow art to connect this new community. According to Huffington Post, American Samantha Robison and Luc Van Der Walt, a South African artist involved in the project, don’t allow children to paint the flag of Syrian’s opposition or cartoon images from television. They want to avoid politics as much as possible and encourage original creations instead.

AptART and ACTED, an NGO whose goal is to help individuals in vulnerable situations, worked together to organize the most recent art project, “REFUGE”. ACTED helps provide water, cleaning up the camp, and teaching about ways to improve hygiene for the refugee camp. The REFUGE Exhibition, which took place on July 3 and 4 at the Dar Al-Anda Gallery in Amman, Jordan, featured photographs and paintings from the children and workers from the community. Much of the art centers on health, hygiene, water preservation, life as a refugee and the hope to return home. These themes probe discussion among children and families, helping them express themselves, gain hope from one another, and encourage a better living environment for everyone. Over 600 children and Syrian and international artists helped create the pieces of the exhibition, thus bonding over the feelings of leaving one’s home country.

With so many deaths and sadness concerning the war in Syria, simple initiatives like that of AptART can truly make a difference. Children speak of their futures rather than wander around the camp with nothing to do. Robison, only 27, has traveled to places like Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to introduce similar art projects.

Photo: aptART.org

 

 

Solution News Source

Make art, not war

Half of the 120,000 refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp are younger than 18 years old, and the non-profit AptART is providing an outlet to help them express their emotions in a creative way. The civil war in Syria has sparked violence in many Syrians and several refugees are in a state of anger and frustration over their current situation. Samantha Robison and Nicholas Renn co-founded the organization Art and Prevention through Art, or AptART, in 2011, which focuses on helping children who are placed in vulnerable situations regain hope through artwork. AptART provides art materials for children to paint and draw on buildings and communal areas. The hope is that through art, children can feel a sense of belonging and learn from each other. Channeling their energy towards creative expression and away from violence helps the community get through a time of war.

Since January, Zaatari has grown four times its size due to the influx of people fleeing their homes in Syria, making it the 5th largest city in Jordan. The Zaatari refugee camp is one of the largest in the Middle Eastern country, with new groups of emigrants who are escaping the ongoing civil war in Syria entering everyday. Leaving the privacy of their homes and the familiarity of Syria is an emotionally difficult process. Furthermore, negative emotions stem from the fact refugees are not allowed to leave the camp – even to work, according to The Artolution.  These feelings of uselessness and boredom, coupled with the tragedy of leaving their homes behind, can create violent attitudes and feelings.

Painting and designing shared spaces and the tents refugees now call home is a way for many to personalize their space. Although they are only 10 miles from the place they once referred to as home (many Syrian refugees are from Daraa, the province where the uprising began), families are living with the idea that the camp might be their home for a while. It is important for them to feel at ease, and allow art to connect this new community. According to Huffington Post, American Samantha Robison and Luc Van Der Walt, a South African artist involved in the project, don’t allow children to paint the flag of Syrian’s opposition or cartoon images from television. They want to avoid politics as much as possible and encourage original creations instead.

AptART and ACTED, an NGO whose goal is to help individuals in vulnerable situations, worked together to organize the most recent art project, “REFUGE”. ACTED helps provide water, cleaning up the camp, and teaching about ways to improve hygiene for the refugee camp. The REFUGE Exhibition, which took place on July 3 and 4 at the Dar Al-Anda Gallery in Amman, Jordan, featured photographs and paintings from the children and workers from the community. Much of the art centers on health, hygiene, water preservation, life as a refugee and the hope to return home. These themes probe discussion among children and families, helping them express themselves, gain hope from one another, and encourage a better living environment for everyone. Over 600 children and Syrian and international artists helped create the pieces of the exhibition, thus bonding over the feelings of leaving one’s home country.

With so many deaths and sadness concerning the war in Syria, simple initiatives like that of AptART can truly make a difference. Children speak of their futures rather than wander around the camp with nothing to do. Robison, only 27, has traveled to places like Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to introduce similar art projects.

Photo: aptART.org

 

 

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