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. studiosyria.org

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!

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