Raya*, 14, is a Syrian refugee living in Jordan. Thanks to a youth club set up by Plan International, she has the opportunity to develop her talent for artwork.
14 year old Raya* is a Syrian refugee whose love for painting started at a very early age. These days she exercises her passion for art by participating in the youth club set up by Plan International in Azraq refugee camp.
Fleeing a conflict that raged in Syria, Raya arrived in Jordan in 2014 with her parents and 7 siblings. On the long and arduous journey to safety she found solace in her drawings. “I didn’t have any papers or colours, so I used to draw lines in the sand, drawing swings and stick figures with messy hair,” she recalls.
“If I wanted to paint scenes from the war, I would paint the soldiers and the rubble, the tanks and the jet fighters, the explosions and how miserable people were”.
Art provides an escape
But instead, she loves to paint colourful pictures of faraway landscapes, images that ironically contrast with the bleak scenery that surrounds her in the camp.
“I can’t get inspired by my surroundings. I usually use Google to search for beautiful scenery or I use my imagination”.
Gesturing to one of her most recent creations, Raya says that the painting was inspired by a sunset that she saw a few days ago. To reflect the coldness she felt at that time she drew mountains lined with snow-covered peaks.
“I felt that I had the talent to paint when I was 10 years old. My father is a much better painter than me, it’s just these days he has more urgent priorities”.
Youth club nurtures girls’ talents
Sat in the classroom, Raya talks about how Plan International’s painting instructor Mr Jouma has helped develop her skills.
“He always points out my mistakes and tries to help me improve my colouring”.
Over time, Mr Juoma has seen her growth and has come to respect her drive.
“She is usually very quiet when she paints and gets very focused,” he says. “It’s something I admire, that’s why I try to help her improve her skills as much as possible. She is one of my best pupils”.
Girls should be able to pursue their passions in life, regardless of their circumstances. This is why Plan International Jordan is actively implementing projects to help unleash the talents of girls like Raya in art, sports, music, IT and leadership.
*Name changed to protect identity.