Syrian Refugee Art Therapy Project – Chapter 2

The Colors of Love: Syrian Art Therapy Project Jordan
Chapter 2: The Compass of the Heart
Day by day we walked by this little wooden stand, held up by 3 posts and a palm tree in Aqaba, admiring the cave-like painted vases. One day we stopped and realized that we were not looking at pigment mixed with oil nor water applied with a brush onto clay, these paintings were made with sand inside glass bottles. What? The artist himself pulled off the shelf an empty, transparent vase and through a funnel, like decorating a cake with icing, poured color after color in a circular motion. From time to time he took a metal rod and poked the edges of the sand with such elegance that you would think each touch was walking the red line between life and death. As the fusion of colorful sand reached the top, a beautiful desert landscape emerged. It was like watching the Tibetan sand art at The Dali Lama’s temple blend with the middle eastern genie in a bottle. It is rarer than a blue moon that glen would purchase a souvenir, but bought this creation before it was even finished.
Beside this miniature, wallless Jordanian palapa of sand-bottles, glows the creation of our second mural with the youth of this growing city. The municipality designated this patch worked wall for our 27 x 12 1/2 foot painting residing only two block from the vortex where landscape meets seascape and we had 2 days to pull it off. In fact, we were not even planning to be in southern Jordan this week; however, due to the shifting of variables out of our control and the postponement of the completion of the school in Amman, everything fell into place beautifully to take the work with the local youth one step deeper. Obstacles can be seen as either curses or opportunity… Thankfully the team of The Colors of Love and Voices of the Children adapted on the spot and look at what has emerged. The Compass of the Heart is now painted into the souls of several youth who were waiting for the inspiration to climb out of a hole of depression, thievery or stagnancy. This compass of love within us all helps guide us in our choices to bring beauty in this world by respecting our neighbor, honoring our integrity and living our dreams. All of our surroundings entered this mural, starting with the sand paintings to the star consultations overhead.
Sitting on the outer ledge of our second floor window sill, looking through a colony of white limestone arches, the voices of the future professional artists of Jordan enrich our hearts and elevate our smiles! “This project brings peace around the world. Painting spreads happiness.” Explained Sanad, a young boy who sells posters under a tent in the evenings. We nominated him for the MIA award (most improved artist). His growth over the last week has been truly remarkable. “Home is where I am calm inside… And patient with myself… If you feel depressed get up, get dressed and go do something: paint, dance, sing, or even cook…” Anya said, an 18 year old Jordanian/ Russian youth who showed up morning till evening to paint with us in the street for multiple consecutive days. She speaks 4 languages and now she understands the language of art! Last night her mother nearly called the police because Anya was lost in her love for painting and missed 27 calls.
While the Colors of Love team enjoyed a gourmet dinner of shrimp to celebrate the completion of our first mural with positive emotions waltzing in the evening breeze, Lea Anne’s phone rang. Before we even knew something was missing, one of the youth from our project notified us that Glen’s new camera had been stolen and information regarding who had taken it. Immediately the people of Aqaba began working to track it down thanks to Lea Anne, Anis and their network of good people, we got it back. This is a perfect example of the beautiful mentality of this country for which we have grown to love. However, this story would not be complete without sharing the resolution: the young boy in question courageously appeared at the site of our second mural with a black eye. We welcomed him with smiles, handed him a brush and began to paint side by side once again… He even bought us a two liter bottle of 7-up for lunch. Everyone deserves a second chance. We are so deeply grateful for the opportunity to create a safe container where kids can be kids, and when mistakes are made, lessons can be learnt and we are all better people for it. The story within the story emerges from this painting… Behold: “The Compass In the Heart!”
So much love and gratitude for Aaron Wagner from Voices of the Children. We could not do this without you! And thank you The Change is Me International, together we all elevate the vibration of humanity. Thank you Joanne Tawfilis for paving the way with murals of peace for decades. Thank you OMAI and all of the organizations and people out there who serve in the bridging of worlds inside and out!
Benjamin Swatez
Glen Taylor Shackley
Lea Anne Omar Almetwaly
Voices of the Children
Luc and the Lovingtons
OMAI – Organización Mundial de Artistas Integrados
@Chime in: The change is me international
Aaron Wagner
Dana Walden
Kelly Sullivan Walden
Susan Johnson
Luc Reynaud
Michael Christopher Brown
Joanne Tawfilis
Meggie Lavelle
Benjamin Swatez’s photo.
Benjamin Swatez’s photo.
Benjamin Swatez’s photo.
Benjamin Swatez’s photo.
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76 Alaa AL-Soudi, Hussam Saleem and 74 others
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Benjamin Swatez
Benjamin Swatez
Benjamin Swatez’s photo.
Like · Reply · 5 · January 22 at 9:36pm
Irene Tsouprake Holombo
Irene Tsouprake Holombo Gorgeous… in material and spirit…
Like · Reply · January 22 at 10:34pm
Leslie Turzer
Leslie Turzer Love your story if second chances… We all need second chances – it’s all about love and forgiveness
Like · Reply · January 23 at 9:44pm
Joanne Tawfilis
Joanne Tawfilis Amazing!
Like · Reply · January 23 at 11:28pm
Eddy Cabrera
Eddy Cabrera Un abrazo Benjamin…
Like · Reply · January 24 at 5:55am
Gladys Bielsa
Gladys Bielsa Genio con gran corazón, eso eres! Felicitaciones querido Benjamin que hermosa leccion de vida la tuya! Porque tu alma esta llena de amor el cuál compartes con todo el mundo! Te quiero Benja que Dios te bendiga siempre y sigue haciendo lo que a ti te g…See More
Like · Reply · 1 · January 24 at 3:24pm · Edited
Prince Paluku Anatole
Prince Paluku Anatole this is amazing Ben
Like · Reply · January 25 at 7:49am
Benjamin Swatez
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