We support, promote, give voice and empower refugee children through the power of artistic expression.
Founder, Aysha Turgut relocated from New York City to Istanbul to discover her cultural heritage and to live life from another perspective. While continuing her academic career teaching art history at a local university, the Syrian civil war began leading to hundreds and thousands of refugees flooding the country. The more children she saw aimlessly walking around begging, or doing menial jobs such as selling bottled water in the streets, the more immersed she became with the idea of helping them directly, giving them voice so that others would know about their plight and join her as part of the solution.
After visiting a few camps to see what was needed, she immediately raised $500 from her friends for art supplies. The first session was held in a makeshift tent, and was a success. As soon as the kids received colored markers and paper, an instant emotional outpouring of images of homes, hearts, tanks and maimed stick figures, came to life, and one by one each child stood up to show off their work and be heard.
Camp Art Project was founded shortly thereafter with the mission of restoring refugee children's trust and dignity in the world through the power of artistic activity, a powerful and proven healing modality.
What started off as an experiment is now a growing movement of the arts for long term support in international humanitarian action. In collaboration with New York University and local partners in Turkey, the art and education program aims to not only heal, but to empower refugee children with the critical skills needed to build resilience; allowing them to successfully integrate into their communities and attain mastery over their lives.
Did you know?
Half of Syrian refugees are children under the age of 18, while around 40 percent are under the age of 12.
Only 30 percent of school age refugee children in Turkey are in school. The rest are idle or working to support their families.
Children often bury their hurtful emotions of loss and displacement as a defense mechanism, which can adversely affect normal development, and ultimately keep them from leading normal lives.
Turkey is the biggest official host of refugees with 2.9 million registered "guests." since the start of the ongoing 7-year war. Lebanon is the second largest host with a little over 1 million registered. The U.S has received 18, 000 and Canada has received 40, 000.
· Art eliminates boredom, allows children to be children again, carefree and at play that is focused and with direction.
· Allows for the way for the development of self-awareness that paves the way to the expression of emotion through color and images that otherwise could not be expressed with words.
· Offers a platform to share story with others, boosting self-image and confidence, increasing a sense of trust and belonging to a greater whole.
· Brings a basic understanding of the spoken language in host country through regular interaction with aid workers(s).
· Sets the foundation for the early stages of writing through drawing and making shapes.
Anya is a 16-yr. old Yezidee girl from Iraq who aspires to be an artist. She makes a drawing pad full of images each week. Here she displays themes of war and grief.