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Children from refugee, host communities ‘paint outside lines’ to send message of hope

By Muath Freij - Jan 24,2015 - Last updated at Jan 24,2015

AMMAN — A five-day exhibition that opened in the capital on Friday is showcasing artwork by Iraqi, Syrian, Palestinian and Jordanian children in both Iraq and Jordan. 

Held under the “Paint Outside the Lines” project, the exhibition was organised by ACTED and AptART NGOs.  

AptART Executive Director Samantha Robison said the exhibition features children’s work from different refugee camps as well as communities that are hosting a large number of refugees both in Iraq and Jordan. 

“Since the Syrian refugee crisis started, there [has] been a very large number of people who fled the conflict and that creates a lot of tension in communities... so the idea is to try to bring those two communities together with the children and also spontaneously to give the children a creative outlet,” she told The Jordan Times in an interview during the opening ceremony.  

The children collaborated with local and international artists to produce works of expressive street art in their local communities. 

“The exhibition showcases approximately 45 artworks and the proceeds will be used to buy art supplies for another project, likely one in Lebanon,” Robison added.  

She said the children are sending messages of hope and peace through their artworks.

“They are the next generation and there is a lot of potential that it can be a nonviolent generation and a generation marked not by violence and hopelessness but towards a genuine progress, towards peace,” Robison noted.

Haben Habteslasie, of ACTED, said the programme was developed two months ago, starting in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. 

“We worked in the camps with both Syrian and Iraqi children and later it came to Jordan. The idea behind it is to create workshops and an environment where children who are from different backgrounds can work together,” she added.  

Habteslasie said in Jordan organisers took advantage of these workshops to teach children important issues related to the Kingdom such as water scarcity.

“It is a big issue, so we did workshops about water conservation, the amount of water each person and house consume every day and how can they cut back. These ideas explored during the workshops were manifested in art,” she added.

In an effort to address water issues in the region, young Syrian and Palestinian refugees worked alongside Jordanian host populations to create street art in their communities with ideas about peace and water conservation, according to a statement released by the organisers.

Under the project, children are encouraged to creatively paint their community walls and think outside the lines of what separates them, finding ways to transcend barriers, and create a future of tolerance and coexistence, the statement said. 

The exhibition, which will run until Tuesday, is held at downtown Amman’s Jadal Cultural Centre, and is open between 11am and 7pm. 

“Paint Outside the Lines” was supported by UNICEF and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department, according to the statement. 

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