Thursday, April 27, 2017

856 Resilience

When I received my Spring issue of ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) News in the mail, it motivated me to finish this little girl's portrait.  So many of the children smile for the ANERA photographers, and I often wonder if, despite their horrible living conditions,  they are simply resilient, or thrilled to have their pictures taken, or happy to see visitors.  Perhaps it's a little of all of those things.  Their smiles give me hope, possibly falsely, because things are looking less and less optimistic for them, despite the Herculean efforts of ANERA and other relief organizations.  Some kids can't seem to muster up a smile, looking either sick or tired (have you noticed they ALL have circles under their eyes?  Is it any wonder?).

This painting is my fifteenth portrait of refugee children in Lebanon and Palestine as part of my effort called The Innocents Project.  I started this project to put faces to those we call "refugees," children who are deserving of all the things we hope to provide to our children, but who cannot receive because of situations beyond their control.  I am hoping not only to raise awareness of these children, but to raise money for ANERA.

The report from the ANERA program manager in Lebanon, Dima Zayat is grimly called, "Refugees Are Losing Hope."   Dima tells a story about a Palestinian refugee from Syria who fled to Lebanon, which makes him twice exiled.  He has five children, and he and his family left everything--their house, garden, school for the children, and his small grocery store in Syria to flee to safety in Lebanon.    The shed they now call home is dilapidated, and the kids have dirty clothes and matted hair.

Dima reports that the refugees are losing hope.  Many of them hoped to resettle to the United States to live normal lives again.  But that won't happen.  Instead they, along with 1.5 Million registered refugees from Syria (who knows how many are not yet registered?) are currently living in Lebanon where the camps are overpopulated, often unsafe, and barely provide the minimum of what they need. Reliable water and electricity don't exist.  Over half of the children do not go to school because they have to work.

ANERA does what they can with the 94% of their revenue spent on programs in Lebanon and Palestine.  They seem to be the only hope in providing dignity and distraction from the dire situation. One of ANERA's programs is called Sports for Peace and Development.  We all know the benefits of sports to children, and the refugees are no exception.  The program is encouraging involvement in soccer, basketball, swimming and yoga for both boys and girls and ANERA is working on getting shoes for the children, who play in socks or bare feet, as well as sports jerseys, which really mean a lot to the children.  

I sincerely hope you will go to their website and read about this fine non-partisan organization.  You can read the newsletter or just this article yourself by going to their website,  By way of the magnifying glass, enter ANERA News, Spring 2017.  I guarantee you will be impressed and I hope you will be motivated to make a donation to ANERA.  Large or small, any amount is greatly appreciated.

"856 Resilience"
acrylic - 12x12 in

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