Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Graphic Novels at Zaatari Camp

In August 2014 Jean taught several graphic novel/cartooning workshops in Zaatari Camp near the Syrian border in Jordan. She worked with a young men's English language group. And a young women's cosmetology class. As a first experiment teaching this age group and this subject the workshops were excitingly successful.

Participants were encouraged to write and draw small moments from their daily lives in the refugee camp - but sometimes deeper messages were also written.

 "My life in the past was filled with sadness, death and tears. But I moved on, and now all I want is to live in the future and take care of my children."

"I hope to return to our country soon. I wish I could have a child.
Life is unbearable without plants and trees." 

 "I feel sad because I know that a lot of kids and young people die daily in my country and I cannot do anything"

"I am in jail. I do not know why. 
They torment the prisoners horribly.
I feel so lonely. I wish I could see my family.
I miss my family in Syria. 
I am out of prison. 
I am back home. I can meet my family now."

Translation for these drawings was generously donated by the wonderful people at Translation4All in Bellevue, Washington. 

Jean will return to Zaatari Camp in April and continue these workshops. It is hoped that with more instruction and time to explore story lines the resulting comics will give a voice to those in the camp who feel they don't have one. It will be a way to express grief - and a way to imagine a happier future.

As always, Studio Syria distributes as many art and educational supplies as possible during these workshops. Participants go home with enough supplies to continue their artworks and to share with friends and family. There can never be too many pencils in the homes of refugees! Studio Syria will continue to distribute pencils, pens, paper and books in 2015. Thank you for your support.