HUFFINGTON POST
01/29/2016 11:29 am ET

Syrian Refugees Explore Their Grief Through Art Therapy

A Spanish NGO has organized an art therapy workshop for Syrian refugees in Jordan to help them deal with trauma and regain a sense of hope.
Iman is 15 years old. A bomb exploded near the car she was in with her family. Two of her brothers died. She lost one of her
Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
Iman is 15 years old. A bomb exploded near the car she was in with her family. Two of her brothers died. She lost one of her legs. In the image above, she is working on a painting called "Sharing the Grief: I Need Someone to Share my Pain."

"Even the snowman's heart has melted with grief after seeing the situation we’re in,” said Abd Allah, 15, describing a piece he created during an art therapy workshop at the Bader Medical Center in Amman, Jordan. 

Abd, a Syrian refugee who has suffered physical and psychological trauma from the ongoing war in his home country, is just one of millions of Syrian children rendered homeless and forced to live in refugee camps scattered across Europe and the Middle East. Studies have demonstrated the serious psychological repercussions that refugee status has on children. Memories of war are painful, and adapting to new environments presents additional stress.

Following five years of war and conflict in Syria, UNICEF estimates that 2.6 million Syrian children are no longer going to school, and that of the 4 million Syrian refugees worldwide, about half are children. There are 2.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, 1 million in Lebanon and 635,000 in Jordan, according to the latest data provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The influx of displaced people has put "tremendous pressure" on Jordan's local resources, schools and hospitals, Queen Rania Al Abdullah acknowledged last week

The Spanish nongovernmental organization Global Humanitaria recently held an art therapy workshop for Syrian refugees residing at the Bader Medical Center in Amman. The workshop was meant to give refugee children an opportunity for self-expression, and a way to deal with the trauma they’ve endured these past five years.

The resulting paintings now make up a traveling exhibition titled "Little Hopes," which will be on display at College of Physicians in Madrid until Jan. 30. After the Madrid show, the paintings will be exhibited in Barcelona.

The paintings are accompanied by captions written by the children. Some of them capture the horror they've lived through. Others exude hope and optimism. The paintings are also on sale on the NGO's website.

"The goal is to sell them all in order to give a better future to these young people, who are full of resilience and hope," said Marta Garcia, a representative of Global Humanitaria.

Many of the young refugees currently living at the Bader Center have endured major injuries -- both physical and psychological.

"A child who came to the center was only able to speak a year after he arrived, due to the trauma he had endured," said Garcia.

  • Wissam, a 14-year-old refugee living at the Bader Center, works on one of his paintings.
    Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
    Wissam, a 14-year-old refugee living at the Bader Center, works on one of his paintings.
  • Khaled, a 14-year-old refugee, and three young women are seen at the Bader Center's art workshop.
    Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
    Khaled, a 14-year-old refugee, and three young women are seen at the Bader Center's art workshop.
  • "Homeless. Even the snowman's heart has melted with grief after seeing the situation we're in," said Abd Allah.
    Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
    "Homeless. Even the snowman's heart has melted with grief after seeing the situation we're in," said Abd Allah.
  • "The Journey of Death: Escaping from Different Deaths." This is the title that Abd, 15, chose for his art piece. He remembers
    Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
    "The Journey of Death: Escaping from Different Deaths." This is the title that Abd, 15, chose for his art piece. He remembers being at home with his father when a bomb exploded. Abd passed out. When he woke up in the hospital, he wasn't aware at first that he'd lost one of his legs.
  • Iman is 15 years old. A bomb exploded near the car she was in with her family. Two of her brothers died. She lost one of her
    Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
    Iman is 15 years old. A bomb exploded near the car she was in with her family. Two of her brothers died. She lost one of her legs. In the image above, she is working on a painting called "Sharing the Grief: I Need Someone to Share my Pain."
  • More artwork from the Bader Center's art workshop.
    Global Humanitaria/Bader Center
    More artwork from the Bader Center's art workshop.

This story originally appeared on HuffPost Spain. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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