PHOTOBLOG: Refugees and artists turn camp into art in Jordan

by Magda Mis | @magdalenamis1 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 18 July 2013 14:39 GMT

Syrian refugees living in Zaatari camp in northern Jordan were engaged in unusual activity in recent weeks.

With help from international artists, they transferred their hopes and dreams into colourful paintings on the walls of buildings and tents of the camp.

The project, in collaboration with the relief agency ACTED and arts organization ACTArt, was aimed at bringing visibility to the plight of refugees by showing their creativity, and uplifting the community by adding colour to the otherwise bland landscape of tens of thousands of white tents.

One objective was to gain attention in a positive way and do something for the kids and for people to express themselves, Joel Bergner, one of the artists participating in the project, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Another objective was to create art in a public space and uplift the community, he said.

At first people were confused, seeing artists among humanitarian workers, Bergner said, but once the work was completed, people really loved it and were happy to have something like that in their community – the reaction was very positive.

The main subjects of those paintings were related to their country: dreams of having a peaceful Syria, returning to their homes and raising families. Some subjects were personal: some children wanted to continue their studies and to get a degree. They want to continue their lives and not be stuck in one place forever. 

People still have their dreams, Bergner said.

Zaatari is the world's second largest refugee camp and hosts more than 130,000 Syrians who fled the two-year-old conflict in their country.

Pictures taken in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan between June and July 2013, courtesy of Joel Bergner.

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