Windsor

Syrian teens dealing with traumatic experiences through art

Pictures of tanks, guns and bombing fighter jets, all drawn by young Syrian teens are helping them adjust to life here and work through the lasting trauma.

'Islam is not terrorist. We are in Canada. Canada is country, is peaceful country'

Yousef Arab holds a picture he drew of a fighter plane attacking his home in Syria. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The pictures tell the story. Pictures of tanks, guns and bombing fighter jets, all drawn by young Syrian teens.

They are the scenes etched in the memories of kids, aged 13-19, attending a summer camp for recent Syrian immigrants who landed in Windsor.

It's helping them adjust to life here and at the same time helping them work through the lasting trauma they experienced overseas.

"Like one of the girls, she saw her sister dying ... and her mother got paralysed ... lost one of her eyes," said camp organizer Hiba Hijazi.

The pictures will be sewn together to make a quilt they will take to their school, Westview Freedom Academy, next month.

The camp began on July 13 at the offices of Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women in downtown Windsor.

Pictures of tanks, guns and bombing fighter jets, all drawn by young Syrian teens attending a summer camp in Windsor. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The 26 teens are also working on what they call a living library. They will use pictures of loved ones they lost in the Syrian conflict to recount their experiences at a celebration later this month.

Mahmoud Al-Sheblak is sketching a picture of his brother from a picture he has of him.

He was shot by Syrian soldiers during a demonstration. He says the camp is teaching him a lot.

"Teamwork and working together," said Al-Sheblak, who is also happy he has made new friends.

The camp also gives the kids a chance to hone their English skills, and a voice to express what they want us know about them.

"Islam is not terrorist. We are in Canada. Canada is country, is peaceful country," said Yousef Arab.

"We learn how to respect each other and we enjoy [the] volunteer work we did," said Omar Al-Haik.

The kids will present their stories and their quilt at a special celebration of the end of camp on Aug. 19 at the Rose City Islamic Centre.

They will also bring the shoes they immigrated to Canada with and put them in a pile and symbolically trash any prejudice they are facing in Canada by writing out the statements on paper and throwing them in a garbage can they are painting up.

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