Saturday, December 31, 2016

What We Achieved in 2016

Studio Syria delivered supplies and held workshops in Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan this Autumn.

We were delighted to see our young friend Yazan after a year. Yazan lives at the opposite side of the camp but walked the long distance when he heard that Jean would be visiting that day. He brought her an apple - a rare treat in the camp.

He showed Jean a tin of colored pencils she had given him last year. He was so proud of them. Poignantly they were too precious to use and remained in pristine condition.

The photo below shows Jean and Wai Chum, the project leader of Refugee Story Circle, a group that raises awareness of refugee issues in association with the University of Washington. Wai and the group produced a magazine called "Hurriyah" - Freedom - using many of the works of art created in Studio Syria classes at Zaatari Refguee Camp. Jean gave copies to the artists in the camp including Yazan who found his own painting in the magazine. 

Jean, Laurie and Bev visited the new art building in the camp. It's an actual concrete structure and beautiful. It is filled with art made by camp residents - many using supplies provided by Studio Syria. Most of the paintings and sculptures commemorate iconic Syrian sites that have been damaged and destroyed in the war. For the artists this provides some solace and allows them to educate the younger generation about their heritage. The art works are also for sale.

The famous and historic water wheels at Hama several of which have been destroyed. 

The Roman city of Palmyra part of which has been destroyed. 

 Jean says hi to a donkey as children walk to school.

Studio Syria's mission is to provide education and art supplies as well as to teach workshops. This year Jean focussed on teaching the teachers and worked with various groups of men and women introducing creative ideas that they can pass along to their own students. Art supplies were divided into 10 portions to be used in 10 different areas of the camp. 

Below is our dear friend and amazing art teacher Ismail, a sculptor. 

Many of the art teachers had special requests for supplies both for their own use and for their classes. We were able to shop specially for them and deliver the requested supplies on our last day in the camp. There was great excitement when donated cameras were distributed allowing the teachers to record work created in the camp and to assist with their teaching. Thank you to Doerte Peters of Seattle and her neighbors for giving us the cameras.

Studio Syria also understands the importance of supporting Jordan's host communities who are struggling with the influx of refugees. We donated art supplies and toys to a local school for mentally challenged students in the Ghor al Safi, one of Jordan's poverty pockets. Many of the supplies were donated by Australian archeologists Penny and Peter Edwell. Thanks you guys! 

Though not funded by Studio Syria, Laurie worked closely this year with Miami University's architecture department connecting students with camp residents and facilitating the design of shade shelters and new modes of transportation. Here Laurie examines a new pedicab, similar to one from her project. Bicycles are more and more popular in the camp but are not considered proper for women to ride so other ways of getting around will give women more freedom.  

This year Studio Syria was joined by teacher Beverly Heiman who worked with Laurie for a couple of amazing days in the large IRD hanger full of excited children. They played games, taught art, read stories and spread joy. Art supplies were donated as well as some warm clothing. The photo below shows Bev and Laurie at the NGO coffee shop at the end of an exhausting and successful day. 

NGO workers still travel for two hours each way from Amman to the camp daily. Below we pause at a truck stop for delicious egg and zatar sandwich breakfasts. 

Security in the camp has changed over the years. There is now a concrete building for Jordanian police where we were required to apply for security papers each morning 

If you supported Studio Syria in 2016 you made all this possible! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You can support us again by donating on the website.

Many people in Canada and Seattle donated hand knit clothing which Jean passed along to the Salaam Cultural Museum and Medical Missions. They have been shipped to Greece and Jordan and are being used with gratitude. Thanks for the love we know goes into every stitch. 

A special thank you to Tracy and Roberto Bonacorso, and Christine Stickler who donate automatically to us each month. You can do the same. Five or ten dollars a month goes a long way and buys a lot of happy moments for children living as refugees. And thank you to the women of the Seattle craft group who donate to us each year with matching funds from the Gates Foundation. 

What's ahead in 2017? Studio Syria is small by design. We work as volunteers and and have found a balance that allows us to continue our efforts without becoming overwhelmed by the tragic situation in Syria. We accept many small donations with enormous gratitude. This is truly an intimate and hands on way for us - and for you - to help with the Syrian crisis that might otherwise seem too big to address. Why not join us by donating or following along on Facebook. Thank you so much.  

Good bye until 2017!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Update - Summer 2016

Hello to Studio Syria supporters! Jean here. I am in Seattle for the summer with my children but will return to Jordan in the Autumn to continue my work with Studio Syria. Thank you for your continued donations and help. (Elizabeth I see a donation from you this morning but no email to thank you) In fact I usually cannot keep up with emails and thank you's for Studio Syria so please know that your contribution is greatly appreciated and will be spent scrupulously on school supplies and art supplies for refugees and underserved students in Jordan.
Please scroll down for our 2015 report.  There are images of such joy and beauty. A nice change from the grief that fills the news this summer.
Check back here in October or November for new reports and photos. And thank you for keeping the people of Syria in your thoughts.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fifteen Things Accomplished by Studio Syria in 2015

1) Studio Syria donated art and education supplies to the Malki Children's Center in Amman Jordan and Jean taught an art workshop. The center assists children suffering from emotional trauma due to their experiences in the Syrian war and was established by Seattle based Salaam Cultural Museum.

2) Studio Syria played with children in Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp, Jordan. Laurie Balbo crocheted bracelets and distributed education and art kits to the children.

3) Partnering with IRD, Jean Bradbury taught drawing workshops to adults and youth in Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp.

4) Workshops were held to teach artists in Zaatari Camp to draw comics expressing their experiences and memories of Syria.

5) More than 200 education and art activity kits were distributed with the assistance of a grant from Portland based Dreaming Zebra.

6) Art workshops were held in Zaatari Camp to teach botanical illustration and to remind camp residents of some of the plants and flowers left behind in Syria.

7) More activity kits were donated and distributed. Each kit contains paper and pencils, a notebook, coloured pencils, coloured markers, a sharpener and Studio Syria's activity booklet, shown above. 50 kits were donated to needy Jordanian families as Studio Syria knows it is important to support citizens of host countries as well as refugees. 100 kits were donated to Syrian families working as itinerant farm labourers in the Southern Jordan Valley in a partnership with Save the Children Jordan in the Ghor al Safi area.

8) Jean taught a plein air oil painting class - outside in the fresh air of Zaatari Camp. And classes in portrait painting in oils.

9) Studio Syria taught a workshop for the community activity leaders working with IRD in Zaatari Camp. Supplies were donated to each district in the camp so that art and craft activities can be held throughout the year. These two fun guys are activity counsellors showing the hats they plan to teach their students to make in 2016. All supplies donated by Studio Syria.

10) Partnering with both IRD (International Relief and Development) and IRC (International Rescue Committee) Studio Syria donated art supplies to orphans and unaccompanied minors in Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp.

11) Students and Rye Middle School in New York State, USA, sent art supplies, homemade sketchbooks and notecards written in Arabic to students in Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp. Studio Syria coordinated and distributed the supplies and will deliver thank you notes to the American kids.

12) As part of Studio Syria's mandate to support underserved host communities in Jordan as well as Syrian refugees, we donated education supplies to a school for developmentally challenged children in the Ghor al Safi, Jordan. Items donated included paper and notebooks, coloured markers, toys and children's books.

13)  Studio Syria donated more children's books to the libraries run by IRD in Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp. We found some of the books we donated three years ago that had obviously been well loved. 

14) Art supplies including paint and paper and craft supplies were donated to the IRD art trailer . 

15) We all had a lot of fun and made some dear friends. Hearts were touched. Art was made. Hope was kindled and love was shared. Studio Syria wishes a happy new year to all and a brighter future in 2016 for all whose hearts are in Syria.

Connecting American Kids with Syrian Kids

Studio Syria partnered with Rye Middle School in New York State this December to bring art supplies to Syrian children in Zaatari Refugee Camp. With inspiration and supervision by teacher extraordinaire Kim Tamalonis, American children made note cards with drawings and notes of encouragement, written in Arabic. They also made sketchbooks by hand. Many makers and colored pencils were collected and donated too along with paper and pencils. The kids at the school also raised $100 to pay for shipping of their donation - an important part of this exciting project.

The donation was a big success. The Syrian children were thrilled with the touching notes of encouragement and each note was carried home with care like a treasure. The notebooks, colored pencils and markers were greatly appreciated.

In return the Syrian children made their own notes of thanks. This young girl copied the pair of houses sent to her by an American child.

Students of all abilities were pleased to participate in our distribution. This young guy struggles with verbal communication but makes beautiful art. We were pleased to be able to give him plenty of art supplies including a hand made notebook.

On the right is a note card from America. On the left the reply message from this young Syrian girl.

The messsages of encouragement written in Arabic and sent from American school kids were read with great care and interest.

This notebook is so beautiful! Is it really mine to keep? Yes! We love this young girls expression of surprise.