By: Ellie Hitt
Under the twinkling lights of the Exchange in Boston, we gathered at the Healing Colors Gala to raise money for the Mawada Initiative Fund and their initiatives to support Syrian children. On display were pieces from Artolution, David Gross, and GAMA (Gathering All Muslim Artists). A few members of Urban Refuge had the honor of attending the gala on behalf of the team and danced the night away to traditional music and later to an amazing dj.
The highlight for us was viewing the art created by Syrian refugee children through the Artolution program. Artolution works in conjunction with nonprofits such as UNICEF and Mercy Corps to bring the arts and psychosocial support to Syrian children in the Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps as well as in Jordanian host communities. We had the distinct privilege of chatting with one of the founders, Joel Bergner, about his involvement with the organization and the promotion of arts especially among children who have experienced extreme trauma. Their programs have been used to help Syrian children process their experiences and to unite the children with their host communities to reduce tensions. Most importantly for Joel is ensuring that the work they do remains sustainable which explains their focus on training local artists to continue their mission.
Throughout the night, we were constantly amazed by the links we saw between our work and the work of Artolution. Although we have different mechanisms, both of our teams are trying to reestablish agency for Syrian refugees and trying to bring their stories to light. As the other founder of Artolution, Max Levi Frieder, explained, their program teaches art so that the children will know “what they say matters and who they are matters”
A huge thank you to Zaina Arslan for inviting us to such an amazing event!
If you are interested in learning more about Artolution and supporting their efforts, check out their website here.