The Art Of Peace
Most people have heard of The Art of War. Palestinian refugees in Nahr al-Bared (a refugee camp that has been home to some 30,000 displaced Palestinians) have experienced it, especially throughout the 2007 Lebanon conflict.
But what about the art of peace?
What about the people who would rather pick up a paintbrush, than pick up a weapon?
The 'Palestine Flowers' - a class of 10-12-year-olds held at a children's centre run in Nahr al-Bared – are some such people. They choose to practice the art of peace, where the children blighted and scared by war use art as therapy (be it drama, dance, painting and music) to help overcome their trauma in a safe environment.
Funded solely by Christian Aid, their children’s centre provides psychosocial support to around 200 children at a time - both Palestinian refugees born in Lebanon, and Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria.
The centre gives testament to the cliché that the pen (or whatever creative tool you choose to use) is truly mightier than the sword. Whereas the sword destroys, the creative pen heals.
Just like the famous poppies on the war-torn western front, the children who make up the Palestine Flowers have thrived despite the violence which surrounds them. It is an example of beauty prevailing in an ugly situation. Growth and creation still being possible in a place dominated by destruction and death.
Wessam Shredeh, aged 11, is one such child.
A Palestinian refugee, Wessam’s parents separated when he was very young. In the aftermath of this divorce, he was severely abused by his mother and others, which has resulted in many behavioural and mental health problems.
As part of the Palestine Flowers, Wessam has started to heal. Provided with psychotherapy, whilst also taking part in recreational and educational activities (such as literacy classes), he has found a degree of comfort.
More specifically, he has begun to master the fine art of peace.