It’s said that “hoping is living a lie.” Too often we had lied to ourselves hoping that life could return to normal. But now the lie has come true. Hope is not a dream; it’s a way of turning dreams into reality. Three months ago, the Haven Center took 55 kids, all internally displaced persons (IDPs), into its art therapy program. We had to turn away as many as 200 more who are now on a waiting list. The kids who were chosen to participate had the chance to attend a place they loved where they made friends, learned, drew, painted, role-played, sang, and danced.
They now live mostly in tents, some in abandoned buildings and a few in rented houses. Some were working on the streets, some had dropped out of school for one or two years, and a few were not from Shingal but from other areas of conflict like Shekhan in the Ninaveh plain near Mosul, Iraq.
Sipal singing “I am not at home, feeling alone,” a song about refugees class
The first month of the art therapy program was tactile art by the remarkable trainer Wareen Murad. His work with the kids went beyond teaching them how to draw and paint. He helped them learn new skills, and also aided in their journey to process the hard things that they had experienced in their lives.
Month two was theater taught by Khalid Khudida, photographer, actor, and activist. Khalid shared his great love for art and his interest in working with kids. He didn’t just coach them, he taught them to be respectful to one another and to value what they already have. He helped them to share their culture, to develop their inner talents and to discover who they are.
Month three was music taught by the musician and composer Natik. Kids had the chance to play instruments and sing songs. Along with Natik, two great volunteers, Shireen and Nadiya, showed the children movement and dance.
With education, there is hope
The goal of the art therapy program is not only to create, but also to provide an opportunity for psychosocial support. As kids start creating things, they start expressing their feelings. At the end of each month, the kids were given the chance to share what they have learned with the community . In addition to the art therapy program, volunteers helped the center staff teach English and Kurdish, share stories with the young students, and work on character development through play.
With support from TentED, EDGE is now happy to invite an additional 50 kids to participate in the EDGE program at the Haven Center. Now more children have the chance to be kids and to take back at least a small part of the opportunities that had been taken from them.