Thousands of people live in the camp near the Iraqi city of Mosul. They have all left their homes to protect themselves from guns and hatred. The people in the huge refugee camp long more and more for safety, comfort and a carefree everyday life – especially the youngest ones. As part of the UN/HIDE project we support ARTHELPS – an initiative of artists and creatives – in creating places in the camp where children and young people can unleash their creativity. Quiet places where they can process what has happened to them and find new strength.
At the beginning of the year, ARTHELPS held a workshop at the camp where the kids drew their memories, dreams and hopes: pets, guitars, aeroplanes … The drawings were turned into various camouflage patterns, which were then used as designs for a small UN/HIIDE fashion collection. Shirts and hoodies for adults and children. The items can be bought at the Gerber in Stuttgart every Saturday until Christmas. The proceeds will go back into the project. Next year, a container oasis will be built in the Essyan camp in Iraq: a place of refuge for children and young people, where they can paint, do handicrafts and make music. We will set up the containers together with ARTHELPS.
And our Christmas mail this year is also all about UN/HIDE. We have turned the camouflage patterns into an advent calendar: 24 words that we associate with the situation in Iraq. Above the pattern, we placed silver-grey scratch paint covering the missing words. Every day one field is scratched off. Little by little, the whole pattern becomes visible – and if you look closely you will discover the dream world of the children.
There are four different cards with different patterns. On the back of the cards, different camp children tell us their story and their wishes. Sipan for example: “I want to become an engineer or an artist. I wish, I could go back home, to see my friends again and to restart a new life.”
We support ARTHELPS because we share their belief: art is a language. A language we all understand and that connects us and requires neither rules nor borders. And it doesn’t even require words – but it can still be loud. So loud that it can change the world.