Azraq Syrian Refugee Camp, AptART, UNICEF and Mercy Corps Mural Series Editorial
The final morning began with welcomes of joy and concluded with Arabic high-pitched songs of the teenage girls. I began to repeat their singing, and we ended up jumping together to the beat of the language. No language, but the language of art. A reason to communicate. A way to communicate.When looking at these girls with their flashing eyes outlined in eyeliner and their bright hijabs, they look to be out of a movie. Their smiles expose rotting teeth, under lip-glossed lips. And slowly as personalities are revealed, they become human. Not a number or a nationality; a joking, living human. One girl, Rooba, had the personality of a 1920’s film star, ready to bedazzle the world. It is easy to forget humanity when talking to the human-aid world. People become camps, sectors and strategic goals; capacity building and statistical consumption, words planted in graphs and charts. Yet, these people are more than the unfortunate feed lot they walked into by simply being born in the wrong country at the wrong time.
I walked into the Adolescent Friendly Tent, past the dusty and torn sandals piled at the entrance. As I entered, the girls were sitting quietly in a circle with a baby in the center. As all eyes turned to me, the baby was handed to me without a word. The green-eyed leader of the center pointed to the mother; a 13 year-old child. I looked in amazement at the girl clad in purple, looking abashed with a slight smile, and understanding my knowledge of her situation. The look in the face of the baby in my arms was of a serenity beyond wisdom. The child-mother looked up at me with eyes of silence. I returned her baby to her, and forgot all I had ever learned about humanity.
Empathy can be numb and forgotten when pebbles are beyond numbers in a desert of countless problems. This young mother filled me with a light that needed to be released. I grabbed the paint that was left from the end of the last day and went to the guard entrance and began to paint; A blue sleeping mother swaddling a baby emerged in a circle, as the water of the earth. This mother is levitating above a shadow with her feet in a triangle pointing to the earth. The painting was a dedication to the mothers in the camp, and to the child-mother whose baby looked up , with the eyes of a tiny prophet.