Warfare, Art, and Trauma

Across the world, conflict and war have brought chaos to vulnerable communities. People have watched their homes burn and their loved ones die, they have been forced to leave everything behind in search of a safe place to live. 

Try to picture the challenges refugee children face after being exposed to loss, death, hopelessness. If left untreated, those challenges can not only hinder their futures as individuals but the future of their societies.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

God desires that all of His children would flourish and thrive. This happens when we understand that God’s love for us is relentless. And it happens through the restoration of our relationship with Him, with ourselves, with others, and with creation. 

Tearfund is using creative therapy to bring this kind of restoration to displaced children, orphaned children, and children who have suffered trauma. Creative therapy gives expression to what is trapped in the mind, allowing the conscience to heal, rebuild and thrive. 

Using sensory modes of expression is especially helpful for children for two reasons: one, their brains haven’t fully developed the mental or emotional aptitude to process what has happened to them; two, trauma is not always experienced through words, it is seen and felt and heard. Creative therapy allows children to explore their whole experience, and cope with it accordingly.  

Rojeya* is only 12, but she has already endured traumas many of us can only begin to imagine. Militants came to Rojeya’s village and burned down her childhood home. When she tried to escape with her family, the militants killed her two brothers in front of her, one set alight and one thrown into the river.

Rojeya is one of thousands of children living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, surviving in extremely basic conditions. In recent years, more than 911,000 people fled violence in Myanmar. Of these, an estimated 7,700 are orphans*.

What has made life more bearable for Rojeya is having a safe space to recover from the trauma she has endured and to just be a child. 

Hope in art

This month Tearfund will be at The Breath and The Clay conference (March 20-22), teaming up with John Mark McMillian and Sho Baraka to discuss how faith, art, and justice are intertwined. If you’d like to attend, use this special discount code to save $50: “createdtocreate”

Even if you can’t attend, you can still take action to help bring restoration to refugee children. 

Tearfund’s child-friendly spaces offer children an opportunity to recover from their pasts and gain hope for their futures. 

$75 could provide four children with three sessions a week at the child-friendly spaces within Bangladesh’s camps. There, children can take part in informal math and language lessons, play therapy, and art-based learning.

*UNICEF, April 2019

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