Art Helps Yazidi Refugee Children Overcome Their Trauma

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August 22, 2014
Dhuk, Iraq

Artists volunteer to help Yazidi children overcome trauma in a makeshift refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraqi-Kurdistan.
The children in the camp have undergone incredible hardship as they were forced to flee their hometowns in Sinjar and Lalish as ISIS threatened to kill and kidnap them.
Aouni Sami, an art school teacher, volunteered along with two of his friends to travel from the Netherlands to Zakho and provide the children with painting tools and teach them how to express themselves through art.

Interviews:

  • Zahra, Yazidi refugee (Kurdish):

I used to be a good student and al my school teachers loved me.. I used to draw and sing to them at my school in Sinjar.. Today I want to draw our house that we left behind in Sinjar.. We live in a tent now..
كنت تلميذة ناجحة في المدرسة وكل أستاذتي كانوا يحبونني.. وكنت أرسم و أغني لهم بإستمرار في المدرسة بسنجار .. الآن أريد أن أرسم صورة منزلنا الذي تركناه في سنجار.. اليوم نحن نسكن في خمية..

  • Aouni Sami, Artist (Arabic):

02: 21 – 2:54 I reside in Holland. I was feeling very emotional and weak regarding what I was hearing and seeing on the news. I felt like I needed to come to Kurdistan and help the population, especially the children, in ways where they can uncover and express their feelings. [It is] also in an attempt to show them some form of entertainment.

2:58 – 4:13 In schools, I used to give art classes. All the students consider me as ‘The Best Teacher” and they just wanted to draw and paint. Here, in this community, thousands of children are asking for a paper to draw on, as well as some coloring pens. The value of coloring pens in a regular atmosphere is worth nothing, but here, coloring pens seem to have a very high value. They would ask me for a paper and a pen to draw their experiences and express their feelings. Some of them drew the area they used to reside in, their villages, and their houses. They still hold on to this space and expressed it in drawing. Many others drew violet pictures showing tragedy and death.

  • Erevan, Yazidi refugee (Kurdish):

In this painting I tried to reveal my hometown Sinjar and Yazidi religious signs and rituals, in addition to the houses where we used to live, and I hope to go back there when there is peace and security.
في هذا الرسم حاولت التعبير عن منطقتي سنجار و رموز الديانة الإيزيدية وطقوس العبادة و المنازل التي كنا نعيش فيها ونأمل أن نرجع إليها بسلام وأمان.

  • Evan, Yazidi refugee (Kurdish): I am a grade three student, I don’t think that I will be back to school soon, after all what we’ve been through.. All my drawings express the miserable situation that we have been through in the Sinjar mountains, these days are unforgettable, they’re full of fear, hunger, thrust.. I call on the children of the world to help us
    أنا كنت طالبة في مرحلة الثالث متوسط لا أعتقد انني سأعود إلى مقاعد الدراسة قريبا بعد ما حصل لنا.. كل رسوماتي تعبر عن ما حدث لنا من مأساة في جبل سنجار.. لايمكن أن أنسى تللك الأيام المليئة بالخوف والجوع والعطش وأدعوا اطفال العالم إلى مساعدتنا..

  • Hayat, Yazidi refugee (Kurdish):

We suffered a lot.. We spent 8 days of starvation after being besieged by ISIS in the mountains of Sinjar . They were threatening to kill and burn us.. We then left the mountains and walked for days to save ourselves. Many children died in the mountains because of hunger and thrust.. I am trying to express all this through my drawing.
عانينا كثيرا.. أمضينا ثمانية أيام من الجوع الشديد بسبب محاصرتنا في جبل سنجار من قبل داعش.. كانوا يهددوننا بالقتل والحرق.. وبعدها تمكننا من الهرب ومشينا على الأقدام لعدة أيام حتى نتمكن من إنقاذ أنفسنا.. العديد من الأطفال ماتوا في الجبل وعلى الطريق بسبب الجوع والعطش.. وسأحاول التعبير عن تلك المعانات من خلال رسوماتي