There are today over 1 million child refugees from Syria. Many of them are living in camps and ghettos in already fragile countries like Lebanon and Jordan. It’s pure madness what these kids are forced to endure. The world so far has responded with a lot of talk and no solutions. Thankfully, countries like Jordan are doing what they can to temporarily protect refugees fleeing the 3 year civil war near its border. Many of the young refugees lack spaces for self expression, communication and hope. That is where this project comes in. Over the past 4 months, I have been in talks to implement my arts diplomacy workshops for Syrian refugee children in Jordan. In previous years these workshops have empowered youth in Morocco and Kashmir. (My project was originally developed and carried out as a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco in 2009. Without the Fulbright, this would not be happening today.)
It has not been easy as I am but an individual with no money or high-level connections. Through some research and nauseating persistence, I have secured the necessary support I need from the German government and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. The communications/arts diplomacy project is being funded for 40 days and I am happy to say that I will be departing in May. UN agencies and local NGOs near the border of Syria are starting to take interest in my project.
I am motivated, scared and may be a little in over my head, but I know that some of the child refugees, may be not all, will take this project and run far with it. THEY will teach US all of tragedy, hope and resilience. It is intended that the project will leave with the kids skills in new media and communications. They will learn how to work together, develop creative projects about the world as they it around them, and express the ways in which they want to change things. The end result will be an archive of short films–written, directed and acted by the refugee youth.
It’s not about politics. It’s about empowerment… it’s about hope… it’s about moving mountains in a landscape of despair. Getting clearance to work in the camps has proven quite difficult. While this is in a holding pattern, I have identified local groups in towns outside the camps where my project will take root. Most of the Syrian refugees are in fact living outside the camps and enduring poverty, heart ache and lack of any hope.
Please follow this blog if you want to follow the project and connect with the refugee youth. Updates will be posted here and on my twitter handle: @mohsindin.
While researching #Syria through art, I discovered a powerful sketchbook of Joumana Ismail that tells the story of what people are going through in Syria. If you don’t know how bad it has gotten in Syria, take a look at this Vine video I took of Joumana’s sketches…