BEIRUT: Arabic rap thumped through a microphone and nimble bodies twirled across the room at Sarvam yoga studio in Gemmayze last weekend, where Mishwar NGO exhibited refugee children’s artwork, photography, and animation.
Mishwar’s exhibition was a burst of life and colors. Visitors from all over the world came to meet the young artists, mostly Syrian refugee children living in Akkar, and enjoy their art pieces and live performances. “I loved the atmosphere; it was really fun and pure. And the kids were so excited,” said Noemie and Amanda, two German visitors working for GIZ Lebanon.
Mishwar Amal, Arabic for “journey of hope,” started in 2016 with Tony Collins, a Scottish musician with an impeccable Lebanese accent. Mishwar initiates bursts of creative projects led by refugee communities with the goal of improving their wellbeing.
Dana Saade is a yoga instructor who recently joined the team; “we hang around with the kids almost every day, and every day is a different plan, either it’s going to be yoga, or it might be capoeira, or it might be painting walls,” she said.
The audience was inspired by the sense of community created by Mishwar. “It’s amazing the personal effort people have made to support this initiative,” said Joseph, a visitor from the UK. Large sheets painted by the young artists hung from the walls of the studio and their photographs were displayed for viewers to observe. Non-stop dancing and singing filled the room with a gushing sense of joy.
The star of the show was Mishwar’s animation project, funded with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
The film exhibited the charismatic personalities of a cohort of refugee children and included a series of animated sketches directed by Patrick Sfeir, a professional animator, who only guided the creative process, as he wanted to give the children agency over the project, he told Annahar.
He added: “The most important thing about this project was to show children that there are still some beautiful things in the world, even after living through war and becoming a refugee. I was a refugee as well.”
For Ryan, another visitor from the UK, it was his first real-life encounter with refugees. He often hears about the refugee crisis through the media, however, as he told Annahar, once he turns off the television, the crisis disappears from his daily life; whereas, it, unfortunately, remains a reality for the refugees.
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