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Towards Colorful Safer Spaces

It was working in a prison that drove Solange Al-Heybe “to give life to the walls surrounding those dark spaces” of confinement. “I was always inspired to bring colors into those people’s lives, as a healthy, comfortable way to reach a positive, hopeful vision,” the psychologist and founder of “I Leaf Art” says.

After “giving life” to several walls at Roumieh Prison and Palestinian camps, Heybe took on an UNRWA school at Bourj Barajneh, where “I Leaf Art” was born in November 2012. As its mission statement tenderly declares, it is a “Group of Artists targeting Rigid Dark Spaces; Turning them into Safe, Dreamy ones.”

What’s most fulfilling is the reaction of the children involved, their amazement and trust,” Heybe explains. Current projects include an elderly Palestinian couple’s home and more UNRWA and public schools. While some of these are supported by the non-profit Sharing is Caring and the Norwegian Refugee Council, Heybe says lack of NGO registration and lack of funding remain challenges. But, she insists, “once we start we can’t stop.”

Fro more info – http://www.ileafart.blogspot.com/

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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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