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In 2014 and 15, I spent time in refugee camps in Iraq's northern region of Kurdistan.  It was mainly women, children and the elderly living in the tent cities located out in the middle of nowhere.  These displaced individuals had fled the war in Syria.  The absence of younger men was obvious.  They had stayed behind in their country to fight.  In another camp were families, most of them from the city of Mosul, Iraq, who had fled when ISIS invaded this predominantly Christian community. 


The life for all the refugees was dismal, but it amazed me how they seemed to be making the best of it.  With limited food, water, nothing but tents to live in, extreme heat and cold, no schools for the children to attend, little to no money and no way to earn a living, you wonder how they could survive.  But they did, with the help from non-profit organizations who came from all parts of the world to help.  One thing that really stood out to me was how well loved the children were.  The challenge of keeping children and their clothes clean, did not prevent moms and grandmothers from working their hardest to care for their youngest family members in the manner they were used to. 

Before I left for Kurdistan, I collected art supplies that I took with me.  While in the camps I did art classes with the children.  They all escaped into what they were creating, and it was amazing to watch how intently they focused on the paper in front of them filling up with colors.  It's as if the uninviting world around them disappeared.  I also brought sidewalk chart, face paint and embroidery floss to use to make friendship bracelets.  The children loved drawing with the chalk on the sidewalk outside the medical clinic while their family member was inside.  When the face paints came out the children got really excited.  One day alone I think I painted close to 100 eager faces.  The bracelets were also a big hit, and I loved seeing the brightly colored bracelets on the children's wrists each time I returned to the camp.


I will never forget this experience and I will forever be grateful that I got to see up close the suffering that goes on, not only in Iraq, but in other parts of the world.  It's an education everyone should have.  You can't see what I saw and not have greater compassion for those caught up in the world's wars.

I hope the photos I took in the camp will provide a glimpse of how deserving the refugees are of a better life - a return to what was normal and safe.

Click on photograph for a larger view.

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Afraid to Trust

Location ~ Refugee Camp in Kurdistan


8" x 8" Mounted for Hanging

Price $45 each or (3) for $125

$10 Packaging and Shipping

Ship only within U.S.



Image by Chris Lawton
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