Iraqi Prison, Home of Art
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
According to the United Nations, as of 2016, 13.5 million out of 22 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance. Of these 13.5 million Syrians, 6 million are internally displaced within Syria. Over 2 million refugees have fled to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The war in Syria is destroying millions of homes and tearing apart countless families.
The Rise Foundation is a non-profit organization established in response to the Syrian conflict. In 2014, this foundation began the Castle Art Project to provide the youth in refugee camps a therapeutic creative outlet to work through war trauma. A previous Saddam-era prison is the home of around 270 Syrians who have been dislocated due to the conflict in their homes. Every Friday, adolescents gather to paint the, previously dreary, prison walls into a vibrant enviromment for the refugees to live in. In an interview by Al Jazeera, some of the participating Castle Art Project youth were interviewed to voice the personal significance of the project:
"I am thankful that in my imagination, at the very least, peace will one day bloom."- Hanan, a 13 year old Syrian refugee
Kawther Ahmad, coordinator of the project, said that the refugees are "encouraged them to think about happy things about nature so that their mental health improves." In the interview, much of the youth mentioned a positive change in their mental health after weekly participation in this project; at the very beginning of the project, the refugees could not stop thinking about the war and only painted gruesome war scenes. Now, the youth creates much more positive art to spark a flame of hope within a turbulent, war-torn area.
If you would like to see more of the work done by the talented youth from the refugee camp, pictures of their work are on tumblr: