Storytelling and Creative Arts with Refugees

August 15, 2020 . Uncategorized

In May, 2019, I accompanied the non profit, The Azadi Project, to Niamey, Niger, as a creative arts therapy consultant. The all female team worked to teach digital skills to the participating refugees, with the intention of imparting tools to facilitate their integration into the labor force within their respective communities.

Throughout the workshop, refugees engaged in storytelling exercises, and inevitably, as the participants recounted their traumatic stories, feeling of stress arose.
I worked to alleviate that stress through art; I designed and facilitated exercises that enabled the group to process what they were learning and manage that stress.

On the first day, (through the help of translators navigating English, French and Yoruba!) we discussed what emotions were associated with the participants’ experiences of displacement, integration and reunification.

Abdoulaye explaining his drawing to me.
Samira (left) and Biba (right). Biba had never before been asked to draw, let alone draw herself and her feelings. At the end of the workshop, she had little difficulty articulating her thoughts via only marker, crayon and paper.

To my fund my participation with The Azadi Project, I threw a fundraiser in which I shared work I had previously created that reflected my own challenges.

At the event, along with my paintings, I displayed the drawings created by the refugees The Azadi Project and I met while in Niger.

I provided guests with the same materials I brought to Niamey – markets, crayons and paper. That evening, I encouraged everyone to take the time to express themselves.