Syrian children paintings parliament

UK Parliament displays paintings by child refugees in art therapy programme

An exhibition of 36 paintings by children receiving art therapy for treating PTSD at the Sir Bobby Charlton Centre in Amman, Jordan, went on display in the British Parliament building this morning.

The paintings will be on display in the Upper Waiting Hall in the Palace of Westminster, where they will be seen by hundreds of peers and Members of Parliament, until the morning of 7 September.

The art reflects the personal journeys of the nine different artists as they attempt to cope with losing their homes, the deaths of their families, and significant physical injuries. Earlier-stage paintings are typically made with dark, sombre colours and tell the stories of their respective losses. As the children benefit from the therapy the paintings become more colourful, and reflect their hope for the future.

The stories of the individual artists clearly demonstrate the value of the Find A Better Way-funded programme. Fatima Aldayat grew up in the rural Syrian village of Ghouta, where she lived with her parents and five brothers. When she was twelve years old she was the sole survivor of a government airstrike on her home. She was left with a severely injured spine and was unable to use her legs.

After several unsuccessful rehabilitation attempts, Fatima joined a physical and psychological trauma therapy programme run by Find A Better Way’s partner, the Polus Center. Over time she went from being a full paraplegic to moving independently with a walker. Fatima also discovered a love for painting through the art therapy programme, and has demonstrated exceptional ability. Her self-esteem has continued to grow as her therapy has progressed, and she has started wearing makeup and shown other outward signs of confidence and socially efficacy. Her ambition is to continue her healing process and to pursue an education.

The exhibition is part of Find A Better Way’s participation in the REVIVE Campaign, which works with other charities and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Explosive Threats to raise awareness of the wide-ranging and long-term impact caused by explosive weapons. As part of REVIVE’s efforts, APPG on Explosive Threats chairman Dr Matthew Offord, MP has sponsored the exhibition of paintings.

Find A Better Way founder Sir Bobby Charlton is delighted with the artwork is on display in Parliament. ‘When you see these paintings in person,’ he said, ‘you get a small glimpse of the horrors these children have been through, and how they are learning to overcome what they have endured. The experience is very humbling.

‘I would like everyone in the world to see this exhibition, but I am especially delighted that it will be appearing at Parliament this week and hope MPs and peers can each spend a few minutes taking in these revealing and expressive interpretations of the children’s ordeals.’