On February 25th, Art Therapist Myra Saad and I spent our first day working together again with three groups of Syrian refugee children. The Kayany Foundation kindly provided use of a classroom at their Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School and organized the groups – one all-girls (ages 13-16) and two mixed gender (ages 8-12) from the neighboring Kuzbari-Rotary German School.
The schools located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon are situated in-between small but numerous clusters of refugee tents and impromptu housing, all within walking distance from the larger, somewhat more organized camps Myra and I visited in 2014. The Syrian border is still within sight, just a few short kilometers away.
Like the children Myra and I met in 2014, many in the groups had endured great personal loss and witnessed horrific events before fleeing Syria. Each expressed what they had been through in their own unique way.
The all-girls group from the Malala School was older than I've worked with in the past. While their drawings were similar to their younger peers, a few expressed themselves more freely in other ways, including music. One of the central goals of the school is to empower women and girls, teaching them that they matter. This message is clearly having a positive impact.
The Kayany Foundation continues to get my admiration and praise for the work they're doing with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. I'm pleased and excited that our previous work together is now funding an ongoing art therapy program being developed by Myra Saad. As seen above, especially with the girl that lost her father, these interview sessions are just a fraction of what the children need to fully process their experiences and recover emotionally.
Knowing this, Myra and I also decided to try something a bit different on this trip and organized multiple sessions with many of the same children from this first day. I look forward to sharing the results as well as the WAR-TOYS photos that were created from the drawn accounts seen above.
My continued thanks to all of the children that participated, everyone at Kayany, Myra Saad, and our intrepid intern Ranine Swaid, whose help that day (and several following) was invaluable.