Saturday, October 24, 2015

Empower the Children

Sharjah -- The stories of refugee children in Lebanon and street and disabled children in Sudan were told through their own words and films during a dedicated screening titled "Make a Move, Make a Change". The screening, which was held yesterday, was part of the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival.
The artistic projects were the result of stop motion animation workshops held by Diaa Malaeb, a Lebanese Children’s Animation Trainer with the support and coordination of Save the Children, War Child Holland, UNHCR, Child Rights Institute – Sudan and Nabba Foundation. Diaa held the workshops at Palestinian and Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon such as Ain El Helwe and Naher El Bared.
Using art as therapy, Diaa encouraged the children to tell their stories. And they did. They spoke about losing family members and homes, living under bombshells, being displaced, leaving loved ones behind, moving to refugee camps and trying to rebuild a new life and the struggle of their families to make ends meet. "I’m afraid to get sick because if I do my family will struggle to pay for medicine," one child said.
Another spoke about the fact that many refugee children drop out of school and start scavenging and selling scrap. The movie outlined the dangers of doing so encouraging refugee children to stay in school.
In each camp, Diaa would hold a 5-day workshop where he taught the children the basics of stop motion animation. "We would write the script, then create the art work then take pictures then finally we would edit the final project. This is all the children’s work, their stories, their voices," he explained.
Diaa said that the challenges of the project were only logistics and technical – sometimes it was difficult for the children to come to the workshop because of security reasons and sometimes a blackout would stop the children from attending.
In addition to being a tool for empowerment, working with the children on these projects was also very stimulating according to Diaa. "When you have children that live in these conditions and you give them the tools and opportunity to get creative, they really shine. I too learnt so much from them," he said.

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