After the challenges of working near Tripoli, children at the Amel Community Center for Refugees in the Hareit Hreik neighborhood of Beirut were a breath of fresh air. Myra Saad conducted an art interview session with a group of Iraqi refugees, many of whom had been born in Lebanon. In stark contrast to boys and girls that I've encountered in the past, most of these children have been well cared for their entire lives and sheltered from violence. It was reflected in both their drawings and behavior.
The same burning heart seen in Tripoli, often reflecting an inner rage, here represents love for Lebanon. It didn't hurt that Lebanese Independence Day was fast approaching and fresh on their minds.
This is by a little girl who said that she wanted to move to Canada with her family. It shows her love of snow...even though she's never seen it. Myra pointed out that the umbrella is often a symbol of protection, so possibly a indication of her mixed feelings or fears of the unknown.
It was amazing to see these sorts of drawings from refugee children, showing a side of conflict I had not yet seen - the recovery. Or more accurately, what can happen when children are removed from hardship and given a chance move past war. The Amel Association, much like many other organizations with whom I've worked, deserves high praise for giving these children the care and attention they deserve. I feel fortunate to have been given an opportunity to witness the results firsthand.
My thanks to center director Wafa AL-Attas, Manal Ghalayini, Loubane Tay, and all of the other staff who were so supportive and kind. Huge thanks also goes to the children that participated and shared so freely.