“Peace for Syria, God is protecting Syria” by Elena Dagher. Muslim and Christian children from more than 2,000 Syrian schools submitted drawings of their country’s civil war last October. A selection of those are now on display in Montreal at an exhibit titled “Drawings of Children for Peace in Syria.”

Syrian war seen through children’s eyes at Montreal exhibit

By  Deborah Rankin, Catholic Register Special
  • May 20, 2017

MONTREAL – It is war as seen through the eyes of Syria’s children, drawings that depict harrowing scenes of conflict and hopeful yearnings for peace.

The images were created last October by Christian and Muslim children at more than 2,000 Syrian schools as that country’s civil war raged for the sixth year. A selection of those drawings are now on display in Montreal at an exhibit titled “Drawings of Children for Peace in Syria.”

An initiative of the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the project was launched through a collaboration of churches and schools in Syria. More than one million drawings were submitted and have been shared with political leaders around the world. An earlier selection of drawings was also delivered to Pope Francis.

“We hope these drawings will awaken the conscience of people when they see the great difficulties of the Syrian people, because of an interminable war,” said Mario Bard, head of information for ACN Canada’s Drawings for Peace campaign.

“The war of information is often manipulated, depending on which side you’re on.”

Since war erupted in 2011, thousands of Syrian children have been killed, and about half of that country’s’ 11 million refugees are children. They are also victims of abductions, torture and sexual exploitation, according to ACN.  Those who have not been physically harmed have often been left traumatized by the deaths of family members or the destruction they’ve witnessed.

Art is a widely accepted therapeutic outlet for children who lack the cognitive or verbal skills to process their feelings, hence the impetus last fall to invite Syrian children to express themselves in pictures.

However, these drawings are more than conventional art therapy. They highlight not only the brutality of the Syrian conflict but echo around the globe to other armed struggles.

“The art project was one way of highlighting Universal Children’s Day,” Bard said.

In 1954 the United Nations established a day to celebrate children’s rights and promote international togetherness and awareness among young people worldwide. To mark that day last year, some children from Syria took their drawings to the European Parliament to promote peace efforts and to highlight the toll the ongoing conflict is having on them and their peers.

“We would also like to say that this is one way of making peace happen, by asking MPs to do something about it,” they said.

The Montreal exhibit is being held at the ACN Canada’s new offices at 1857 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West. It is being held in conjunction with a photo exhibit titled “Persecution?” — a photographic journey across a diversity of situations of persecution lived by Christians on the planet. The exhibit reveals various facets of religious persecution lived by Christians around the world.

In 2017 more than 200 million people will face persecution because of their religious faith, with Christians being the primary target of violence perpetrated by the State or by terrorist groups in over 38 countries.

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