Saturday, December 14, 2013

Winter Cold and Lots and Lots of Hats!

In September Studio Syria started a yarn club in Zaatari Refugee Camp. It was fun and successful with many women and kids making their own warm clothing and enjoying the therapy of creating, learning and teaching. Hats, gloves and sweaters were made and worn proudly.

It soon became clear, however, that the need in the camp for warm clothing was dire, so with winter approaching Studio Syria's Laurie Balbo decided to keep as many children warm as she could. Partnering with her friend in Ireland, Virginia Nitz, the women collected 4000 donated hats! With shipping donated by DHL and a hefty customs duty fee paid by Laurie's fundraising effort, the hats were delivered to Zaatari Camp on Wednesday. The American organization International Relief and Developement coordianted. The next day the camp was hit with snow that became the worst storm Jordan has seen in many years. You can see Virginia's Facebook about her hat collecting adventures here. And read about Laurie's customs adventures here.

Studio Syria, based in Seattle, served as a collection point for American hat makers involved in the project. We collected over 500 hats and gave some to our local friends the Salaam Cultural Museum who have already distributed them to refugees in Jordan. We also sent a selection to refugees in Turkey with Play4 Syria. The rest will be hand carried by Jean to Jordan in December. See photos of all the American hats on the Studio Syria Facebook. 

Meanwhile Canadian knitters did not want to be left out and have been adding to the mix.

What a crazy wonderful scheme Laurie and Virginia. And what glorious results! Laurie's next plan is to raise cash for shoes and socks. Having warmed the heads and hearts of 4000 kids already she is taking care of cold and wet feet too. Donations of money for shoes can be made to Studio Syria or directly to Laurie's Paypal. If you don't think kids should have bare feet and sandals in freezing weather please donate. We'll buy new socks and used shoes in Amman.

And if you are in the Seattle area you can drop off donations of new socks, pajamas and underwear - as well as clean blankets and warm clothing (used is fine) at the Salaam Cultural Museum. Rita will ship them to Jordan for refugees there. She also needs vitamins and children's cold medicine. Containers leave from Seattle regularly. Read about Rita's efforts on her blog.

Give money to Studio Syria here.

Give blankets and supplies here:

Studio Syria
1618-10th Avenue W
Seattle, WA 98119

The Salaam Cultural Museum
3806 Whitman Ave. N, Seattle WA 98103 (Wallingford)
Thank you.

Opal looks at an aerial photograph of Zaatari camp and guards some of the Seattle hat collection.

Hats on heads. Seattle's Salaam Cultural Museum distributed these hats in November.

These hats were distributed at a SCM clinic in January. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Art Exhibition

Studio Syria will be exhibiting original drawings made by the children of Zaatari refugee camp from 7-10 November in Seattle at the Affordable Art Fair. Founder of Studio Syria, Jean Bradbury, will speak about her experiences teaching art in the camp on Sunday 10 November at 3:30pm. You can read an interview with Jean here. 

See you at the Fair!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Studio Syria Partners with other Organizations

As a small organization Studio Syria finds it beneficial to partner with larger groups to reach as many children as possible. We work in Zaatari Camp with security clearance and a great deal of assistance from Save the Chilrdren Jordan. We are currently working with International Relief and Developement to supply their library. We delivered art supplies to the UN Women's center in Zaatari. And we went shopping for art supplies with childhood trauma specialist Alexandra Chen from Mercy Corps in September to help to supply their child friendly spaces. You can hear an brief NPR interview with Alexandra about her work here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fundraiser for the Salaam Cultural Museum

If you are in the Seattle area please join the wonderful people working with the Salaam Cultural Museum for an evening of music and food. They have been taking a huge amount of medical and educational aid into Jordan and Syria for displaced people. Let's support them in their work by attending this fun event on 24th October. It's at Harissa Mediterranean Cuisine, 2255 NE 65th St, Seattle, WA 98121.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Studio Syria - What We Did With Your Donation

Jean is back from her September visit to Zaatari refugee camp. She taught art workshops for four days with an open door policy for children of all ages and genders. Studio Syria partners with the amazingly devoted staff of Save the Children Jordan to facilitate this. Jean also held an afternoon art workshop in a facility provided by United Nations Women and donated supplies to them.

We'd like to thank Bernadette Ward of PanPastels for donating such amazing supplies that let the kids "paint" without water.

Under the guidance of expert knitter Laurie Balbo the Studio Syria yarn club was launched using yarn donated by people in Seattle and British Columbia. Laurie also cleared out much of her personal collection for the crafters at Zaatari.  The club became so popular that we moved it outside to make room for more women and girls.

Studio Syria purchased and donated hair dressing supplies for the hair dressing school at the UN Women facility. We'd like to thank Jonathan Flint and the staff at Seattle's Salon Joseph for their support of this.

Studio Syria purchased $140 worth of Arabic children's books and delivered these along with 150 donated children's books to the new Zaatari Library.  We'd like to thank Beatrice Cross at publisher Pan MacMillan and author Karen Asfour for their generosity.

We will supply International Relief and Development with more books, pencils and notebooks to assist with their literacy campaign and the opening of two more libraries. We think this library is one of the most heart warming things we have ever seen.

Studio Syria distributed a couple of thousand pencils, markers, colored pencils and notebooks to children along with 200 copies of our specially designed activity booklet.

This young girl holds a typical Studio Syria gift of an activity notebook, pencil, markers and a pencil sharpener. She has also been given bottled water and a nutrition enriched cookie from Save the Children.

With funds from Studio Syria Jean donated $700 worth of art supplies to the Child Friendly Spaces soon to be opened at Azraq Camp.

We also met with the psychologists of Save the Children Jordan to discuss future art therapy workshops. And with the staff of Save the Children International's team who runs the 21 Child Friendly Spaces in Zaatari to discuss how to help them provide creativity to children in the camp.

It was a very busy and productive week. We have much clearer ideas about how to avoid the inevitable distribution problems and are delighted to have made so many contacts with agencies happy to receive our help.

Most of all we will never forget the smiles on the faces of the children who made art with us and the loud and joyful scenes of children having fun and using their imaginations.

Finding Houssam

After six months Jean returned to Zaatari camp again and found some old friends. Houssam looked so much older - but is still the happy, funny little kid she remembers. 

He took part in our hat making workshop and looked so handsome in his creation. 

This guys hat was made by his sister who didn't want to pose for a photograph. She was happy to dress up her little brother though.

A lot of mothers and grandmothers took part in the hat workshop - helping with the glue and staplers. Some of them modeled their kids' creations with pride.

Days after the workshop Jean could see kids in the camp still wearing their hats.

Jean poses with some Save the Children staff and Syrian kids. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Studio Syria in the Jordan Times

It was great to work with Seattle based Alisa Reznick on this article in yesterday's Jordan Times. One small correction - the workshops Jean teaches at Zaatari last all day long - not an hour. There is so much need and so many kids wanting to participate. We have an open door policy - so every minute of the day is filled with color and wonderful mess and smiles.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Jean Returns to Jordan on Monday Sept 9th.

Jean is looking forward to meeting up with Houssam again - the happiest and funniest kid she has every met. She painted these olives for him after he had a rough day and was upset. He kept insisting that the bushes were olive trees - so she made them so. Stay tuned to see if she can find Houssam. And to see how the mural has weathered after six months.

We've Made National News on Meet the Press

You can see the clip from Meet the Press here. The footage was shot in Jean's art studio by a Seattle news team from King 5.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hugely Successful Yarn Drive!

The yarn drive is finished. We can't fit any more in our studio! Thank you Seattle and British Columbia for donating so much color and joy to the people of Zaatari refugee camp. We are very touched and had a wonderful and silly time today sorting through the beautiful things your gave us. 

Our fabulous volunteers worked hard today. Karen sorted yarn while Virgie wrote and designed a children's booklet for the kids at Zaatari camp. Yes we are a creative bunch here at Studio Syria.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We're in the Media!

We've been busy talking to the media. The Seattle Times wrote an article giving some background to our story and covering our art workshop at the street fair last weekend. You can read it here. Marcus Yam from the Times took this lovely photo of Racha Haroun writing "You are in our hearts from Seattle" on the back of her son's drawing.  Jean will take these notes to Jordan to read to the refugee kids so that they know we are thinking about them and sending as much help as we can.

And our local NBC affiliate King 5 News interviewed Jean in her studio about why taking art and educational supplies to the Syrian children is so important. You can see the clip here.

We led the news last night here in Seattle so congratulations to everyone who supports us for helping to get the word out. The people of Syria need our help. Please remind your friends that they can donate for Jean's upcoming trip on the Studio Syria website. Let's send her to Zaatari refugee camp with wonderful school supplies to make those children smile.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Do you like art? Do you like amazing food? Do you want to hold someone's hand?

Join us on Sunday, 25th August to launch our new "Hold My Hand" project.

We'll draw colorful self portraits, cut them out and attach their hands into one of those wonderful paper doll chains. Jean will take it to Zaatari Camp where the children will make their own portraits to add. The kids in Seattle and the kids from Syria will almost literally be holding hands! Plus it will be lots of fun and smiles - in Seattle and Zaatari. Sunday 25th Aug 11-4 at Melrose Market Street Festival. Outside the fabulous Mamnoon restaurant. Yum!

This project was inspired by a great new book called "The Paper Dolls" published in the UK by Pan MacMillan who will be working with us to provide books in Arabic for children in the refugee camps. Thanks Pan MacMillan!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Studio Syria will partner with Mamnoon restaurant on Seattle's Capitol Hill for the Melrose Market Street Festival. We'll host an art workshop where kids and adults can make a drawing or write a message for Jean to take to the Syrian kids in Zaatari Camp in September. Drop by the festivities and try some of the acclaimed cuisine from Mamnoon. Meet Jean and make a drawing. Let the kids in Zaatari know that people in Seattle haven't forgotten them. Sunday 25th August. 11am - 4pm. See you there. And don't forget to bring your unused yarn to add to our yarn drive.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Drop Off Sites for Our Yarn Drive

We have two official drop off sites for yarn in Seattle! Nancy's Sewing Basket in Queen Anne and Stitches on Captiol Hill. Bring in those unfinished knitting projects - wool or synthetic - and leave them in the basket. They will be shipped to Zaatari Refugee Camp and used in our new knitting club. The drive ends August 31. Thanks for your kindness.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Yarn Drive!

Studio Syria is holding a yarn drive in Seattle and Amman. When Jean was at Zaatari Camp this spring she took a few balls of wool, donated by our friend Laurie, to give to a girl who wanted to crochet. When other women at the camp saw that wool was being donated they gathered around asking for some too. In fact we had a bit of a crowd situation! Jean learned two things from this. 1) Don't distribute supplies in public in the camp. And 2) BRING MORE YARN.

Zaatari Camp gets bitterly cold in the winter and the people need sweaters, hats and blankets. But they also need a creative outlet. They want something to do with their time and a way to express themselves.

There is a bonus - our poster will appear in Yarn shops around Seattle and will connect people to our work.

Studio Syria usually buys all our supplies in Amman since shipping costs and customs are prohibitive from the States. But though the magical support of Jordan's own favourite shipping company Aramex we can ship the yarn with their help.

We are currently setting up donation points for the month of August in Seattle. Stay tuned for a list of places to bring your unwanted yarn.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Our Web Site is Live!

Our first blog post - and it's big news!

Friend of Studio Syria - Chris Munson - has donated his amazing skills and constructed a great new web site for us. Check it out! this will be a great tool to help us raise funds this summer for art and educational supplies. You can donate from the web site which will take you to the magical people who manage our paperwork. Thanks for taking a look. And thanks for caring about the children - and grown ups - of Syria.

Our founder - Jean Bradbury - will return to Zaatari Refugee Camp in September to donate educational supplies, make art and maybe paint another four-hour mural