Light Against Darkness: An Exhibition Syrian Refugee Childrens Art was organised by the Peace and Justice Centre with the Childrens War Museum and ran from 21 October to 12 November at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy and St John’s Church. It was launched at City Methodist with a reception attended by about fifty people which featured Syrian Classical guitarist Ayman Jarjour and an S1 class visited the exhibition.
The exhibition runs at St Marys Cathedral in Glasgow, 300 Great WEstern Rd. G4 9JB from 21 to 30 November. Mon – Friday 10am -12:30pm, Sat 10am – 12:30pm & Sunday 12:30 – 5:00pm.
We were welcomed by Deacon Belinda Letby and Rev Harriet Harris of the University Chaplaincy made an appeal for donations and Abdul Bostani from the Scottish Refugee Council gave a talk on Refugees. The exhibition was funded by grants from the Church of Scotland World Mission Council, Edinburgh City Centre Churches Together and an anonymous donor. On top costs we raised an additional £500 to send to Najda Now, the Charity which ran the therapeutic art workshops for the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.
The P&JC aims to raise awareness of the impact of armed conflict on civilians and disproportionately on women and children, who are often killed, traumatized or forced to flee their homes. We believe that UK bombing in Iraq and possibly in Syria in the future will only make the situation worse.
This exhibition highlighted the great work done by the Syrian Humanitarian Relief Charity Najda Now to help children affected by the conflict recover from the trauma. In bringing this exhibition to Scotland we helped to raise awareness of the impact of the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq on civilians and on children in particular.
It was very moving to see the progression from the earliest raw, black and white drawings of the children which depict the experience of the war. Helicopter gun ships, tanks, men shooting unarmed men, apparently the father of a child, and bodies on the ground bleeding and presumably dying. Later, the paintings take on colour and life, pictures of home, farms, animals, and childrens self portraits some a metre tall in bright acrylic colours. So the whole thing moves from the darkness and trauma of war to the light of the return to happiness and life.
Children from St Thomas Aquins S1 RME class visited the exhibition. Pointing to a picture of a helicpoter shooting at a family one girl asked: “Did they experience that?” They wrote letters to the kids in the Najda Now programme. One boy wrote: “I can’t imagine what you have been through”. They watched a video of the Syrian kids and one boy commented that they seemed so happy. It was a tribute to the Najda Now teachers who helped these children cope with the traumatic experience they had been through.
There are millions of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and within Syria itself. More needs to be done to help all of them. Donations can still be made on the P&J website with Syrian Kids in the Refence line. Donations will help Najda Now continue this wonderful work.
The exhibition was covered by Edinburgh Evening News and STV. Following is an exerpt from the STV report. The full story is available here: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/life-style/syrian-children-drawings-are-brought-to-edinburgh-1-3581510