A few days ago I had the privilege of seeing From Syria With Love’s touring art exhibition.
All of the artwork in it was done by Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebannon and, as you might expect, it was a deeply moving experience.
When we arrived in the small exhibition space off Magdalen Street in Norwich, my friend and I were just in time to see the screening of a short documentary about the children living in the refugee camps. Whilst rough and ready, it was one of those rare pieces of footage which can put an entire room on pause. In this small room in Norwich, a truth which I have known for a long time but not wanted to think about too hard was held up to my face.
It is one thing to know that there are millions of Syrian refugees but it’s another to listen to them articulately describe that which for us is unimaginable.
After the film, I looked around the exhibition. It’s small and unpolished, but to present it in any other way would have been disingenuous to what it was trying to convey.
All of the artwork is by children but much of it depicts things no child, no person, should have to see. The ones which have stayed with me afterwards include a depiction of the bombing of a hospital and another showed ‘War’ arriving at Syria’s door after leaving a trail of blood through Iraq and Afghanistan.
All of the money raised by From Syria With Love goes towards helping Syrian children in refugee camps, helping them get access to an education and to emergency support. They have no managerial costs and provide a breakdown of how they spend every pound of their money on their website.
Afterwards, my friend and I walked away, deeply affected but unsure as to what we can do to help. It’s still a question I am asking myself, but I do know that if this exhibition comes to a venue near you then you must make the time to see it.
There is no greater cure for compassion fatigue than to hear of the horrific experiences of Syrian refugees in their own words and images.
You can find out more about From Syria With Love at their website.