Syrian Refugees Find Solace In Arts


*Written by: MoneyPenney*

Unfortunately when most people think about Syria most of us imagine a place of devastation, violence, torture and unbearable sadness. It has been widely noted the mass exodus for migrants fleeing the country over the years and it makes us think about the people who choose behind to stay. In the wake of such tragedy, what is their motivation, why remain? The answer according to many activists from the region is simple, nationalistic pride and desire to preserve cultural heritage. Two traits common in Patriots of any country around the world.

It is not widely known in international circles but Syrian once had a flourishing arts community. Sadly over the years many of the peacekeepers, activists and artists have fled to find greener pastures. It is common result of of War, from Hitlers Nazi art collection of WW2 to Spanish inquisitors burning of manuscripts in South America before them. War has a unique way of destroying art and sadly artistic expression is one of the first freedoms people lose amidst War.

PBS NewsHour recently interviewed several Syrian artists for a segment on their podcast entitled “Surrounded by violence, Syrians seek solace in art.” Says Jeffrey Brown of PBS, “As the fighting in Syria approaches a fifth year, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and displaced, the nation’s artists have sought ways to respond to the destruction of their homeland. Some try to tell the stories of their fellow Syrians, while others seek to document the conflict through films and artwork. But no matter the medium, they all share a desire for peace. Full Story:


Through art, the people of Syria are telling the story of their strife. They do this so their children can grow up knowing these stories so they can they can then pass it on to their children who can do the same, so on and so forth. People in the future will one day write stories about our times, what will the history books read? This is what people in Syria are trying to improve. In a time so many are focused on the end of days and War, people in Syria amidst greatest destruction are still finding ways to focus on ways to improve the future. Something which can and should inspire us all.

Recently, The Guardian profiled a Syrian refugee camp where the people use art to preserve their history. “As Syria’s cultural heritage continues to be ravaged by conflict, exiled artists in the Zaatari refugee camp recreate historical landmarks as a symbol of resistance.Full Story:

Another group of artists started a project called Art from Zaatari which embarked on a six-month project to recreate Syria’s most famous landmarks in miniature scale models. As one project leader said “It felt like a good way to get the message out, because art is a language that doesn’t need to be translated.Artists represent the soul of the Syrian people, much of what we know about ancient civilizations or prehistoric people was preserved through their art – Egyptian hieroglyphs or cave paintings – so we feel we have an important role to play.”  This project was particularly important for the children of the country who others would grow up with no memories of the Syrian culture, history or its monuments. Read More Here:

Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp, 2014: collaboration with local youth, who painted about what they missed most about their homes in Syria in the colored shapes. Part of an arts and education initiative in the refugee camp. Project partners included AptART, ACTED, Mercy Corps and UNICEF.

Painting a river in Za'atari Syrian refugee camp

Bringing color & life to the Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp

Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp, 2014: (detail shot) collaboration with local youth, who painted about what they missed most about their homes in Syria in the colored shapes.

Syrian children are in desperate need of positive educational activities and mental health services; many don't go to school and have suffered the traumas of war, but it's amazing to see how bright, energetic and fun they are!

Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp, 2014: "A River in Za'atari" Joel created this mural with local children during an arts and education initiative in the refugee camp. Project partners included AptART, ACTED, Mercy Corps and UNICEF.

We painted with the famous wheelbarrow boys of Za'atari who smuggle goods into the refugee camp. They painted about what they miss most about their homes in Syria.

This little guy was so proud of his wheelbarrow art! We've been working with the Syrian boys who smuggle goods into Za'atari refugee camp, as most trade is illegal there besides certain basic items. The kids are so young and don't go to school, regularly get beaten by the cops, and face the pressures of having to help their families make a living after having gone through the traumas of war and displacement.

Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp, 2014, "I dream of..." Joel created this mural during an arts and education initiative with local kids, who participated in the painting of this mural, expressing their dreams for the future. Project partners included AptART, ACTED, Mercy Corps and UNICEF. Photo by AptART.

Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp, 2014:"The Future is in Our Hands." Created near the entrance of Za'atari Syrian Refugee Camp, this piece emphasizes the need for displaced people to rebuild their communities. Local youth painted and wrote in the mural about what they'd like to see in their future neighborhoods, whether they're able to return to Syria or must remain across the border for years to come. Project partners included AptART, ACTED, Mercy Corps and UNICEF.

Germs vs. soap-- hygiene education mural

A Syrian girl painting a mural in Za'atari refugee camp

writing on the wall-- hopes and dreams for the future

The arts give children in difficult situations an outlet to have fun, express themselves, bond with others and learn a variety of skills. This girl lives in Za'atari Syrian refugee camp and participated in our arts & education project

Abstract art!

Painting the Syrian Refugee Camp! Through workshops & street art, kids here in Za'atari can focus their energies and learn skills. This girl is one of my favorites, always so enthusiastic!

Teenager painting in Za'atari

Refugee Camp Art: collab with Syrian artist Ali Kiwan and the kids of Za'atari.

Youth workshop in Azraq refugee camp

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