I was on a bus from DC to NYC to arrange for an art show about my home (Syria) when I thought: what if I could do more? What if I can use art to do more than raise awareness about what’s going on at home! That’s when I thought of “Blooming Syria” a simple project where I work with Syrian kids to plant garden in the shape of the Syrian map. From that point on, the ideas were flowing and the end result was my project “Seen for Syria” which combined art education/ therapy with gardening and exchanging letters and drawings between Syrian refugee children and children in the U.S.

On May 29th 2014, I arrived to Amman, Jordan to start my 10-week long project with SCM and little did I know that by joining two medical missions as a humanitarian, my whole perspective on the Syrian crisis will change: I expected to see children that are depressed, and had lost all child-like qualities because of what they’ve been though. To my great surprise, these kids had a lot more to offer that I thought: while we offered them toys and candy and did face painting and planted vegetables, they offered all of us, especially me a lesson in survival; a lesson in the true meaning of hope. They shared the sincerest and heart-breaking stories about their lives in Syria, the people they had lost and what they hope to happen.

Many kids asked me to be their teacher. They’d give me hugs and kisses and shook hands with me. Not for a second did I feel that I was helping. The whole time I was at any camp, I felt that I was being showered with love. The kids I had worked with during the medical missions and at the SCM center had proven true what Vincent Van Gogh said two hundred years ago: “There’s no art like loving other people”. Today I have more hope than ever that we will have our beautiful Syria one plant at a time and one hug at a time, and like a phoenix, my beautiful Syria will rise from the ashes.

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