On June 20th 2015 the world pays tribute to the resilience of refugees. As we celebrate World Refugee Day 2015, we stand in solidarity with all of humanity regardless of passports, religion, ethnicity, or refugee status.
51 MILLION people have been forced to leave their homes worldwide. In the Middle East and North Africa region, many find refuge in Jordan. To commemorate the struggle and strength of refugees, Jordanian and international Artists, Akut of Herakut and Suhaib Attar joined forces with a group of Somali, Sudanese, Syrian and Iraqi children to paint the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR registration centre and headquarters in Amman, Jordan. UNHCR implemented the project along with Awareness & Prevention Through Art aptART.
AptART is an organisation of artists and activists who work with conflict affected and marginalised children, providing them the opportunity to express themselves through art. They create outlets to build awareness, and promote prevention about the issues affecting people’s lives. Their workshops culminate in large-scale public art as well as individual pieces and uses art to inspire children in these conflict zones to breed positivity and hope instead of hate.
“Unless we teach our children peace, somebody else will teach them violence.” Colman McCarthy
For this project the team worked together to develop the concept of strength through unity. The image of a young boy holding a single paintbrush juxtaposed with a bundle of paintbrushes references a cross-cultural metaphor for the strength humanity has when it stands together.
Children participated in workshops developing words that represent them. They then painted their words on the wall inside the stripes of the boys T-shirt. Words included;
The phrase, “As one I am fragile, Together we are strong”, was added to the top left corner as a reminder that the refugee crisis is a global problem and can only be solved if the world stands together.
“As one I am fragile, Together we are strong”
We spoke with Jordanian street artist Suhaib Attar, who is actively involved with other aptART projects in the refugee camps in Jordan, about how art benefits the children…
“Art helps them to be distracted from all the wars and all the bad things that happen around them, or sometimes to send their message to everyone and express their feelings.” Suhaib Attar
This project was made possible by the enthusiasm and support of both refugee and host communities in Jordan. It was implemented by UNHCR and aptART with the support of Montana Cans (always sending colours to the most remote destinations), Norwegian Refugee Council and IRD (International Relief and Development).
Photos courtesy of aptART