Tag: Syria

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are fortunate that our friend Khalid has been leading many of our recent art sessions here in Gaziantep. Khalid has a true gift with children. His words transform their faces into delight — it is quite something to see. We’ve been recording video of him for the eBook, and we’ll be posting a few clips here. The first one, below, is a short example of Khalid instructing the kids on how to use a brush. (The video is in Arabic, but English speakers will get the general gist of it. We’ll be adding subtitles later.)

Khalid is also a photographer, and he took some photos of some of the children peering into our classroom from the courtyard. I really love them. He’s graciously let us share some with you here:

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Children at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Khalid Eid

Thanks again to Khalid!

Görüşürüz! -Mieke

Happy New Year!

We’ve taken a holiday break from the blog, which means this post will be long and chock full of photos! We are now in a city about 4 hours north of Reyhanli, called Gaziantep. I’m really enjoying this city–the people are warm and welcoming.

Our friend, As’ad Sieo, connected us with a wonderful Syrian school here; its name translates to “Friendship School”. We’re also incredibly lucky that another friend, Khalid Eid, has been teaching art classes for us at this school. Khalid is a natural-born teacher, with an energy that the children love. The moment he begins speaking in a classroom, the children light up with joy. It’s magical to watch. Below, I’m posting a few photos of Khalid in action, but I’ll be posting some video clips of him as well in a later post. (Khalid’s also a photographer, so I’ll post some of his photographs in the next post, as well.)

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

A student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

A student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Here are a couple of the paintings from the art sessions:

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

David’s been making many portraits at this school; I’m including a few, mostly of teachers, below. We’re saving most of the photos of the kids for the book.

Manager at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Manager at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Teacher at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Teacher at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Class of students at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Class of students at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

I’ve started working again with my digital camera, photographing the city and the neighborhoods where the students live. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to take the school bus home with one of the girls at the school (and Khalid, who is also a fantastic translator). Below are a few photographs that I took on the bus ride:

Students from the Friendship School getting off the bus after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Students from the Friendship School getting off the bus after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Friendship School bus dropping kids off after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Friendship School bus dropping kids off after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

View from the Friendship School bus in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

View from the Friendship School bus in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

View from a neighborhood in Gaziantep in which many Syrians are currently living, by Mieke Strand

View from a neighborhood in Gaziantep in which many Syrians are currently living, by Mieke Strand

And last, but not least, I’ve been going out photographing in the streets of Gaziantep to document city life. I’ll include just a couple here:

Gaziantep at night, by Mieke Strand

Gaziantep at night, by Mieke Strand

Portrait of a man from Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Portrait of a man from Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Görüşürüz! -Mieke

We’ve taken a short, holiday break from Inside-Outside, which has allowed me to process the film I’d taken so far. In the spirit of our last post, here are a couple of the portraits I’ve made in Reyhanli:

Syrian girl in Reyhanli, Turkey by Mieke Strand

Syrian girl in Reyhanli, Turkey by Mieke Strand

Syrian teenage boy in Reyhanli, Turkey by Mieke Strand

Syrian teenage boy in Reyhanli, Turkey by Mieke Strand

We hitched a ride one day with a boy collecting recyclables with his mule and cart. Here’s one photo from that memorable journey:

Smoke break, by Mieke Strand

Smoke break, by Mieke Strand

And my last photo in this post is in honor of my eldest nephew, Esteban. Esteban is currently a huge fan of  Barbapapa, a French cartoon character whose name means “cotton candy” (literally “daddy’s beard”). This one’s for you, Esteban:

Cotton candy in Reyhanli, Turkey by Mieke Strand

Cotton candy in Reyhanli, Turkey by Mieke Strand

Görüşürüz! -Mieke

A few days ago, we asked you, Dear Readers, whether you would like to see some of the photographs and drawings from our project now, or whether we should instead unveil them all for the first time in the Inside-Outside eBook.

The reply was a resounding “now”! You asked, and we shall deliver. (Again, because I am shooting film, the photos in the post are all by David.)

We’ve been working most recently with a Syrian school in Reyhanli. The directors, teachers, and students at the school have been incredibly welcoming and generous with their time. The first two photographs below are of the director of the school and his wife. We can’t thank them enough for their generosity and warm welcome.

Director of school for Syrian children, by David Gross

Director of school for Syrian children, by David Gross

Wife of the Director of a school for Syrian Children, by David Gross

Wife of Director of school for Syrian Children, by David Gross

The next photograph in today’s series is of Tamador. Tamador provides psychological support to the students in addition to teaching. She has been leading art sessions at the school for months, and she had generously lent her time to leading sessions for our project as well. Tamador is constantly working, busy, on the move, and she has a fantastic, fantastic sense of humor.

Tamador, by David Gross

Tamador, by David Gross

And finally, here are two portraits of children from the school.

Girl at Syrian school in Reyhanli, by David Gross

Girl at Syrian school in Reyhanli, by David Gross

Boy at Syrian school in Reyhanli, by David Gross

Boy at Syrian school in Reyhanli, by David Gross

Now, for the drawings. Each session that Tamador has led has had a different focus, and the drawings reflect that. In the first drawing below, Tamador had the child draw his vision of Syrian before, during and after the war. This is drawing is more abstract than many of the others, and it is also one of my favorites. (Please note, I’ve blurred out the children’s names on their drawings for the sake of privacy.)

Drawing by child at Syrian refugee school in Reyhanli

Drawing (Before/During/After the War) by a boy at Syrian refugee school in Reyhanli

In this painting, the upper left corner (all in black paint) is how the child thinks of Syria in the past. As he explained, there were all different kinds of people, different religions, different ethnicities, but people didn’t really see each other as different. In the center section of the painting, the boy shows Syria as he sees it now. Differences are very clear, and they are keeping Syrians divided. His hope for Syria’s future is in the lower right. He expects people in Syria to still see their differences, but to nonetheless live together in harmony.

The next three drawings come from a session dealing with stories of loss. They are particularly heartbreaking. The children we’ve met have seen and experienced more than any child should endure.

"Black clouds. A mother crying for her son, baby, and sister. She lost 3 family members." Drawing by Syrian girl.

“Black clouds. A mother crying for her son, baby, and sister. She lost 3 family members.” Drawing by Syrian girl.

"Two planes drop bombs on the people. The children are crying, and the father has lost his hands." Drawing by Syrian girl.

“Two planes drop bombs on the people. The children are crying, and the father has lost his hands.” Drawing by Syrian girl.

"A girl at her father's grave." Drawing by Syrian girl.

“A girl at her father’s grave.” Drawing by Syrian girl.

And I’ll end on a more uplifting note. This last drawing shows a Syrian girl’s feelings toward Turkey, her current home. She felt that Turkey was the only nation to really help Syrians, and was clearly grateful for that help:

Syria and Turkey. Drawing by a Syrian girl.

Syria and Turkey. Drawing by a Syrian girl.

As always, we look forward to your thoughts, comments and questions.

Görüşürüz! -Mieke

Reyhanli by David Gross

Reyhanli by David Gross

Much to my delight, it snowed here in Reyhanli on Wednesday. It was beautiful, and although the snow in the streets melted quickly, the surrounding hills remained dusted with white.

Snow in the Syrian hills above home construction in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, David Gross

Snow in the Syrian hills above home construction in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, David Gross

And of course, as beautiful as it is, it also makes life incredibly difficult for all the families who are living here without heat, not to mention those living in nearby camps. This thought reminds us that the hurdles we face in doing this project are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

But speaking of hurdles, our latest minor challenge has been power outages. Although we have no idea if this is related to the snow, the power was out in the entire city of Reyhanli for most of Wednesday and Thursday. The streets, however, remained active with life, including these two boys we met making the most of the weather:

Turkish boys pose with their snowman, David Gross

Turkish boys pose with their snowman, David Gross

It snowed again today, and we were worried that we wouldn’t have a chance to work (in part because of power outages, and in part because the school we are working with is closed on Fridays). We started the day by walking through Reyhanli as it snowed (I’ve been shooting primarily with film lately, so this blog post will contain mostly images by David):

Mieke in Reyhanli, David Gross

Mieke in Reyhanli, David Gross

As we were walking, David’s phone rang. It was our friend, Mohamad, and he had arranged for a group of boys to participate in an art session at a nearby tea house. Our friend, Tamador, was available to lead the session. We were so thrilled.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, both Mohamad and Tamador are volunteer teachers at the Syrian school that is working with us. Tamador also provides psychological support for its students, and she was leading art sessions with the children before we arrived in Reyhanli.

Both Mohamad and Tamador also work for the Maram Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by a group of Syrian-Americans to provide aid to Syrian refugees, both within Syria and here in southern Turkey. The Maram Foundation has been incredibly supportive of our project, and we are most grateful. We are also incredibly grateful to Mohamad and Tamador for their help and hard work. They have done so much for us in such a short amount of time, and we cannot thank them enough. !شكرا

Thanks to Mohamad and Tamador, the class today was wonderful. Here’s a photo Tamador took of David with the boys:

David with a group of boys from Syria, by Tamador

David with a group of boys from Syria, by Tamador

It was a really good day! We’ll share some drawings, and perhaps some photos, in a later post.

I’ll end with one of the few digital photos I’ve taken recently, of a new playground in Reyhanli:

New playground in Reyhanli, Mieke Strand

New playground in Reyhanli, Mieke Strand

 

Görüşürüz! -Mieke !إلى اللقاء





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