Service Project: Syrian Refugee Art Therapy

Photo Credit: NGO VOICES OF THE CHILDREN

The Syrian Refugee Art Therapy Project: Colors of Love – January 4th – February 18th, 2016 – produced by Chime-In International Youth Ambassador program and The Voices of the Children

Many children across the globe have had their innocence stolen from them. All children have the right to a childhood. With the tremendous incline of refugees worldwide, post trauma therapy is in a larger demand than ever before. The war remains within the human psyche until appropriate attention is given to the horrors and atrocities stored within the mind and body.

Often times children who have been exposed to severe psychological stress, struggle to verbalize their traumas, and yet, one artistic composition can speak a thousand words. Art therapy is an essential social service support, especially in environments facing extreme adversity. Providing a safe, trusting environment for the development of healthy communication skills, and serving as a positive outlet to release the effects of Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD). It has proven to be a highly effective healing tool, fusing psychological exorcises with colors, shapes, movement and musical notes to calm mental turmoil and spread peace within, inevitably effecting the surrounding environment. In metaphorical terms, art therapy is a form of alchemy: transforming anxiety, depression, fear, and anger into positive expression, heightened self-esteem and a sense of self-empowerment.

The Syrian Refugee Art Therapy project will be working in three locations of Jordan: The first is Za’atari, the second largest Refugee Camp in the world, currently housing 79,000 Syrian Refugees. Secondly, Amman, the capital, creating a new experiential school, teaching art, music, photography and film making with 70% Syrian refugees and 30% underrepresented Jordanian youth. Syrian youth outside of the refugee camps currently do not have access to Jordanian public schools. Finally we will be in Aqaba which is the hometown of the Jordanian Chime-in: “the Change Is Me” international youth ambassador, Lea Anne Omar Almetwaly. Lea Anne is the project coordinator for the “Colors of Love” and she brings invaluable experiences to the project from international peace programs and the Chime-in international youth ambassador program. Lea Anne serves as compassionate bridge between cultures. She is a real blessing to have on board. There are very few, to no, programs offered for Syrian refugees outside of the refugee camps in this region. We will infuse art and cultures together through the colors of love!

The project will begin in Washington, United States, with the students of the Skagit Valley School District and will end in Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan. One of the primary focuses of Voices of the Children and Chime-in is intercultural dialogue, and we will create this dialogue through creativity. Murals created from this exchange that promotes positive international relations through the colors of Love, will be presented before the United Nations, with Project Art Miles.

Objective:

Chime-In International Youth Ambassador Program – www.thechimein.org, and Voices of the Children – www.votchildren.org, join forces along with collaborated Save the Children – www.savethechildren.org, OMAI (organización mundial de los artistas integrados, Art Miles, and the Syrian Refugee Youth to lay the foundation of a sustainable model for creative healing. Due to outstanding work teaching the Syrian Youth how to make their own documentary footage, Voices of the Children have be nominated as program director the new new experiential school run by Save the Children. The Colors of Love team will spearhead the opening of the Ecological Experiential School at Kings Park in Amman with Aaron Wagner, founder of the NGO Voices of the Children.

The art therapy curriculum, “The Colors of Love” – written and directed by international artist Benjamin Swatez, will be taught to the pupils daily for the duration of the project. An artistic vocabulary will be developed, psychological exorcises will be explored through art and creative expression will flow. This curriculum offers the children the opportunity to release the pains and suffering carried in their psyche through a positive outlet, opening the doors for new hopes and dreams. The children will be given the opportunity to express their voice of freedom with the world. Hundreds of paintings will be produced and one from each participant will be showcased in exhibitions in Museums worldwide.

6 murals will be completed: 3 on canvas will be painted by the refugee children and professional artists for the Art Miles Mural Project, founded by Joanne and Fouad Tawfilis, and partner with United Nations Association, USA, SD. These murals be presented to the United Nations. http://www.artmiles.org. Three wall murals will also be painted. One in the community of Aqaba, one on the experiential school for the grand opening with Voices of the Children in Amman, and one on the headquarter building of Save the Children Jordan. These murals painted in collaboration with Syrian refugees, underrepresented Jordanian youth and professional artists will improve the quality of life through colors and culture, celebrating the new chapter of life, self-empowerment and free expression.

An art therapy workshop will be held with local staff to introduce creative healing techniques and promote sustainability long after our departure.

Live, upbeat world music will be offered at the experiential school in Amman as well as in Za’atari, by the lead singer of Luc and the Lovingtons, Luc Reynaud, the creator of the world famous “Freedom Song” from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Mr. Reynaud will write and record a song with the Syrian Refugees onsite, throughout the duration of the project, and share this unified message of peace on international tours, an album, and in free concerts for people facing adversity, inspiring the world to be of service to both our national and international family. “Serve to Love, Love to Serve.”

World renowned photographer Michael Christoffer Brown will teach the Syrian refugees photography using smart phones.

Faisal Attrache, an international film maker, will teach silent film making to the Syrian youth.

“The Colors of Love” – This feature length film has documented Art Therapy Projects led by Benjamin Swatez and his team, partnering with local NGOs and humanitarian aid programs, across the globe for five years. “The Colors of Love” focuses on the ability of the human heart to find forgiveness and love in the face of extreme adversity, through the healing arts. The Film Producer and film crew, (the Sound Engineer and Cinematographer), will be present in this Syrian Refugee Art Therapy Project, both participating in the project and professionally filming amazing work, incredible stories and breathtaking art by the refugees, aid workers and the project team.

We will obtain positive media coverage for the Refugee Camp, the Refugees, and the effectiveness of Art Therapy, giving credit to the organizations and individuals who helped make this project a reality.

…And we will hand deliver a mountain of soccer gear to the refugees in Jordan!

VIEW LATEST PRESS RELEASE

Benjamin Swatez – Project Leader – E-mail: bswatez@gmail.com – Telephone: 001-213-332-3869
Lea Anne Almetwaly – Project Coordinator – E-mail: leaanne.almetwaly@gmail.com Telephone: 001-682-583-2774

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