Schisto refugee camp, located in Athens is a temporary home to refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. To help address the importance of community and bring people together Danish Refugee Council teamed up with aptART (Awareness & Prevention Through Art) with the support of the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO). Together the youth of Schisto refugee camp and artists painted the camp’s library, offices and kindergarten with bright colors and messages highlighting the beauty of coexistence and power of collaboration
Alphabets and typography are integral forms of communication but they are also art. The people living in in Schisto refugee camp come from different parts of the world with different languages and alphabets. Some write in Arabic or Farsi and others in Kurdish or Urdu. They are also learning Greek as well as English. To share the beauty of different alphabets, artists Camilo Rojas gave a workshop about typography. Using different markers and pens everyone practiced writing words, their names and messages in a variety of fonts and languages. After the workshops, everyone came together using chrome markers and covered 3 sides of a prefabricated office building in the center of the camp. Camilo then painted massive letter on each side of the caravan, reading “Better Together” and “Hope”. The different languages and alphabets engage everyone who passes by, no matter where they come from.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Books and stories are the foundations of childhood. Whether is be bedtime stories or fables and fairytales. The literature we read when we are children shapes our understanding of the world around us. Books fuel human imagination for what is possible and expand reality. For refugees a healthy childhood can be difficult to achieve, but access to books and even a library, a childhood can be immensely improved.
To share the joy of books with children in Schisto refugee camp, we read together and drew pictures from their favorite stories. Then we went to the community library located in the center of the camp. Ernesto Maranje painted a massive rabbit leaping towards a pile of books with leaving coming around the sides. Inside the leaves children drew scene from their favourite stories. Some drew caterpillars transforming into butterflies while others drew Spiderman, Snowmen or Rapunzel. The drawings remind all who pass by the important of stories in the lives of children.
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY
The life of a refugee can be immensely difficult and it can be hard to remember the beauty that each day can bring. Together with children and youth we painted the camp Kindergarten with a reminder, that if you choose to see it that way, “It’s a Beautiful Day”.
Everyone got together and covered the walls with green paint. Then we made flowers and bird stencil andd painted more flowers with spray cans and brushes. As a finishing touch we sprinkled word about what makes a day beautiful in different languages. The result was a garden bursting in colour and creativity.
THE GIFT OF AN IMAGEPhotography allows us to capture a moment in time and keep memories of people and places. With the development of digital photography many memories are stuck or lost inside cameras and phones. However, with the old technology of instant film we are able to give people a tangible image immediately after it is taken. Refugees in Greece have transient and uncertain lives. They leave friends, family and places behind as the move to new camps or even new countries. The power of a polaroid camera and instant film allows people to take a photo, write on it and keep it with them or gift it to someone else.
Valeria Lopez ran workshops about basic photography. She discussed the concepts of composition and subject matter. Then the kids were given cameras to practice. Over 1,000 instant photos were taken during the week of workshops. Everyone was snapping photos of everything from family photos and friends to pictures of flower in someone’s garden.
Photography by AptArt / Samantha Robison