From Syria to B.C.: How art made of little stones is teaching kids about the refugee experience

As soon as author Margriet Ruurs saw Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr's stone images on her Facebook feed, she knew there was an important story to be told.

'We need to support refugees, no matter what — no matter where they come from'

A long-distance collaboration from Syria to British Columbia created this powerful refugee story told in stones

4 years ago
When author Margriet Ruurs saw Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr's images created with rocks, she knew that there was an important story to be told. So she reached out to Ali Badr - the result is Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey. 3:52

Author Margriet Ruurs was on Facebook when she first saw pictures by Syrian artist Nazir Ali Badr. The image of parents traveling with their child was composed entirely of stones Ali Badr found on the beach, arranged and photographed on the roof of his home. Immediately, Ruurs knew she was going to reach out and find a way to tell an important story: the journey of refugees fleeing war.

Using 30 images and a long-distance collaboration with Ali Badr, Ruurs completed Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey. Ruurs says, "War is, unfortunately, not isolated. But I hope what children and adults get out of the story is that we need to support refugees, no matter what." And readers are getting exactly that out of the pair's book for children: it's ended up on the Canadian bestseller list, is nominated for prizes and has generated royalty money that Ruurs plans to donate to programs benefiting refugees.

(CBC Arts)

In this video, Ruurs takes us inside her partnership with Ali Badr. Today — World Refugee Day — you can find Ruurs and translator Falah Raheem discussing the book at Greater Victoria Public Library.

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