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Syrian Children Making Their Own Inroads to Freedom

For displaced Syrian children in Idlib Province, the Karama Bus is opening up colorful new horizons. Created by activists with the support of Kafr Nabl’s media office team, the “bus” is actually a psychological support program that takes youngsters on a creative journey, transforming displacement into productivity.

Every week, Karama Bus facilitators visit six schools in Kafr Nabl City and nearby villages where they teach painting, drawing, photography, puppetry, and arts and crafts, screen videos made by local activist groups, and lead sing-alongs. Reading and writing workshops and dialogue sessions also support children as they process absorbed violence.

“People want to think about the future, how to produce new images from violent images and vocabulary,” one activist explained.

“The sweetest thing is to see the kids playing normally, and to give them a chance to have a real childhood again,” added Khaled Al-Eissa, one of the bus’ facilitators.

First run on a volunteer basis, the project is now funded by the Organization Sooriat for Human Development. In the future, the group hopes to spread this vibrant model of art therapy throughout Idleb, and to establish a travelling theater troupe.

For more info – Karama Bus

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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