“I think art is important for everyone everywhere. We never realize, especially in the region, and for educational and cultural reasons, the incredible therapeutic component of creating anything. Even when one is not doing specifically art therapy, one is still healing when they are being creative, and this comes from my personal experience as well as what I have witnessed here with the children. We never realize that we don’t have to create something beautiful…but by being creative, we are beautiful!” says Soulaf Abas, a Syrian artist who began a new initiative called Seen for Syria, in which she organizes art classes for Syrian children in Jordan.
Soulaf began organizing the Seen for Syria initiative when she first thought of the idea of creating a Syria-inspired garden while sitting on a bus from Washington DC to New York City in August of 2013. She then organized a show in DC, using Arts Illiana as her fiscal sponsor and was able to sell pieces of her own art to begin the initiative. Together with the sold pieces of art and the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo.com, Soulaf was able to raise enough to begin the project. One of the primary components of the initiative is an educational program that began in June this year, running until August, at the Salaam Cultural Museum in Amman. This course has allowed for Syrian children to express themselves and some of the trauma they’ve experienced through productive, creative means. Including children from ages 5 – 14, Soulaf hopes the program will garner enough funding so that she can eventually provide it on a regular basis in Jordan and Lebanon. The project also includes a dynamic cultural and art exchange between American and Syrian students, and a traveling art exhibition.
“With all respect to their efforts, I truly believe that we do not have to be an organization or an NGO to be effective. Individuals can make a difference. It is just a matter of believing in oneself and believing in the message one is trying to deliver. When we do, the sky is the limit.”
Today, Seen for Syria is holding a fund-raising event in Jordan with music by Syrian band Mouwashahat, held at Jadal cultural space in downtown Amman.