The goal of this project is to find an unusual and compelling way to connect you with the Syrian children who need your help. Images of refugees in the media generally don’t help us make the emotional connections to these distant and foreign people that lead to action. We know there is a problem because, despite the media coverage of the Syrian war, humanitarian aid organizations still don’t have the resources they need to help the refugees.
This project seeks to break through the filters of distance and otherness by presenting Syrian children as dignified individuals while sharing their inner turmoil in a way that any parent can immediately understand.
To do this, we visited four Syrian schools (and a tea garden) where we photographed hundreds of portraits of Syrian children. We used a formal portrait style to remove the sense of the difference, to emphasize the shared humanity of the subjects.
We also organized art classes and art therapy sessions, and we photographed the children’s drawings from these events. Children’s drawings have a universal appeal, and even when influenced by place, language, or politics, they retain a raw human essence. They are immediate in the way a photograph is immediate, which is why pairing them is so effective and powerful.
The Syrian war has created the largest refugee crisis in a generation, yet the world has not provided for these people, and many Syrians, mostly children, still need the basics: shelter, education, food, and security.
We hope this project will raise awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis. We hope to bring more art to more children, because we learned from this project that for these kids, who often feel powerless and controlled, self-expression is necessary for mental health. Art becomes a necessity, not a luxury.
Of course, we also hope you will support humanitarian organizations and ask your politicians to help the refugees.
Simply offering your attention is a way to help, too. People in serious trouble, especially war refugees, need to feel that their troubles are worthy the attention of outsiders. An easy way to contribute is to ask a child to draw and send a picture to the project.
However you choose to act, we would like you to be a part of it.
Art is important. It’s not like wasting time. Before, it was nice to have art. Now, it has a new mission. In this situation, art has a greater value. Before the revolution, we had art classes. It was important, but not a big deal. But now, it is important. This is the door, the way, the window to take feelings outside. This is important.
– Khalid Eid
To install, open this page on your iPad then tap here to get the Free App.
The app is where you will find portraits, drawings, and essays — this website shows only a small part of what’s in the app. The app tells you the stories behind the drawings, the schools, and the reporting trip. Please, download it to your iPad and tell your friends!
Here are some sample pages from the app:
See, the Inside-Outside Project App is more than a digital book. It is an expandable publishing platform for multimedia advocacy. As we get new art and stories, we will be adding new booklets to the app.
The app now showcases photography, art, stories, and essays. It is also a medium for sharing people’s lives, beginning with the Syrian refugee children in our project from Turkey.
“If you’ve ever, even for a second, doubted the pain — and resilience — of children exposed to war, violence, death (the real kind) please take a moment and look through this amazing project….”
“All over the world we have put politics, agendas, money ahead of these kids: in the end we reap what we sow.”
“I hold my babies close and I cry for the parents of so many of these children…. We are ALL human. How easy we forget.”
If you want to help out, please consider working through our partner, Solinfo. They are a French-registered, official non-profit organization, and they have agreed to accept donations to be used for Syrian children.
Their mission is simply to allow children in need to make art. They have no political agenda, and they do not take sides. Since 2012, Solinfo has supported art workshops in villages, refugee camps, and schools in Syria and Turkey. Solinfo provides art supplies, teacher training, and small stipends for the teachers. They support all kinds of artistic events for children, holding exhibitions of the children’s art, providing costumes and sound systems for theater, or renting a space.
Storytelling is David’s passion.
David is a journalist and award winning photographer with 15 years of experience covering stories from mass graves in post-war Kosovo to juvenile prisons in California.
He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied print reporting, radio, and photojournalism, with additional studies at the Human Rights Center in war, post-conflict, and international human rights. His work on mass graves in Kosovo won the prestigious World Press Photo award in 2003. He has published in major European and American magazines and newspapers.
He also works as an advocacy consultant, combining his journalist storytelling skills with digital design and software development to bring you projects like this one.
Mieke is a portrait and documentary photographer who looks for the simple, uncomplicated essence of humanity in her subjects.
She has worked in locations ranging from San Francisco, California, to the heart of Botswana in sub-Saharan Africa. Much of her work to-date has been for children’s humanitarian organizations.
Mieke studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design while completing a bachelor’s degree with honors in Visual Arts at Brown University. In addition, she holds master’s degrees in both Art History (U.C.S.B.) and Architecture (U.C. Berkeley).
Outside of photography and travel, her loves include ultimate frisbee, books, foreign languages, well-loved sketchbooks, and hats.
We visited four Syrian schools (and a tea garden) where we photographed hundreds of portraits of Syrian children. We used a formal portrait style to remove the sense of the difference, to emphasize the shared humanity of the subjects.
When Khalid enters a classroom, from the moment he speaks the children’s faces light up with joy and wonder.
Before his joining the Inside-Outside project as an instructor, he worked with children across Syria in theater and the arts. He has organized more than 80 interactive performances for children around Syria, introducing them to learning-through-play programs, and he has launched a pilot program to teach teenage journalists.
Khalid is also an accomplished photographer. He holds a communications/journalism degree from Damascus University.
Ezgi’s brings joy and concern, focus and levity, playfullness and mindfullness to her work.
Ezgi specializes in Expressive Arts Therapy, a style that integrates her passions for the arts and clinical psychology. She is solution-focused and uses many intellectual and spiritual influences. She employs visual arts, dance, movement, drama, music, and poetry in her work.
She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. She studied psychology at Istanbul Bilgi University and wrote her thesis on Bipolar Disorder and Artistic Creativity.
Mohamed has a combination of kindness and focus that makes him a joy to work with.
He worked with the Inside-Outside project to arrange art classes for students at the Free Syria school and for neighborhood boys at a local tea house. As a fluent English speaker, he was able to handle the coordination between the school, Tamador Alomor, and the project.
Mohamed is from Idlib. He trained as a software engineer in Damascus, and he is also a skilled graphic designer. He volunteered at the Free Syria as a teacher of information technology.
He is also, without a doubt, the nicest person on earth.
Tamador is a social worker with a doctorate in sociology from Damascus University. She organized the art classes we held at the Free Syria school. She works at various schools and refugee camps in Turkey and Syria, helping children and adults.
Mohamed says that Tamador is the teacher most beloved by the children because she touches their hearts. She makes children happy in a very special way.
The Inside-Outside app is not designed to collect information from children under 13 years old (covered by COPPA) but from their parent/guardian using email. Even so, we wanted to be clear about how we use the information we might get.
The information we collect from the email the app creates is not identifying information. We designed the system that way on purpose. However, we are aware the email will contain the sender’s email address.
The app allows anyone who can use email on the device (the iPad) to submit drawn pictures via email, along with a first name, age, and city of residence.
The person collecting the information created using the app is David Gross, the co-creator of the Inside-Outside project. You can reach him at email@example.com
The information contained in the email, meaning only the information created using the app, and NOT including email or email signatures, may used in future publications by David Gross, including websites and electronic books. The information will not be used for any commercial purpose.
However, the email address of the message may be collected and used to send messages related to the Inside-Outside project, the app, or to similar publication by David Gross and the Inside-Outside project. The email will NOT be used for any other purpose, not given to anyone else.
A parent or guardian may contact David Gross at any time, and may request all information connected to the email address used to make the request. We will honor any request by anyone to delete all information related to the email address of the request. That is, if you want to ask about a given email address, send your request from that address.
If you have any questions, please contact David Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact form on this website.
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