In many locations around the world right now there is a situation where a country neighboring a conflict zone is the destination to all the affected people trying to flee the war torn areas and search for peace and safety. However Lebanon is more than unique if you consider the number of refugees it has taken in while it as a country itself is trying to recover from a civil war. Through all the negativity there is positivity just as destruction can be the catalyst for creation. Samantha Robison from aptART comments on exactly this situation and a project they curated with artist Ernesto Maranje and the local kids of Beirut. RHINO OXPECKER ERNESTO MARANJE LEBANON

While still recovering from it’s own civil war, Lebanon has taken in huge numbers of refugees fleeing the current conflict in Syria as well as Iraq and Palestine. One in every five people living in Lebanon is a refugee from another country. Lebanon’s recent civil war combined with scarcity of jobs, resources and space causes tensions between people from different backgrounds.

“The Rhino and the Oxpecker” Ernesto Maranje for aptArt in Lebanon

To understand the importance of diversity and how people can work together for mutual benefit, kids were involved in workshops drawing the symbiotic relationships they see in nature. Their examples from ranged bees and flowers on land to clownfish and sea enemy in the ocean. They wrote ideas and drew pictures inside bright leaves that cascade up the wall. Ernesto Maranje then painted a giant black rhinoceros who shares a symbiotic relationship with Oxpeckers, or tick birds which sit on the rhino and eat ticks, blood sores and even warn the rhinos of danger. The image serves as a reminder of how diversity can be a benefit rather than a burden.

All Images by SAMANTHA ROBISON – aptArt