SUBA UDE provides physical, creative and emotional projects for displaced persons living in welfare camps in Sri Lanka. We focus on psychosocial needs beyond food, shelter and medicine.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Art in the Camps!

As our one month with IOM draws to a close, it has become crucial to implement and solidify these self-sufficient programs that we've worked so hard to develop, and pass them on to those who will live here much longer than us. Our thanks to Rio, Brett, and Joe Ballarini- with your kind donations and collaboration with instructors from the Ruhunu Cultural Center in Matara, we've been able to place our In Camp Arts Education Program in three of the I.O.M. camps. With your help, we've covered instructor salaries, instrument rentals (dolki, harmonium, upcountry drums), and art supplies for 250 students.

This program will last 3 months, beginning with the first art class on Monday in Devinuwara camp. Courses in Art, Music, Dance, and English will be held weekly in each of the camps during the afternoons. The first session is 1 hour 15 minutes long, for 5-10 year olds. The second session is 1 hour 45 minutes, for 10-17 year olds. Interested 17-29 year olds may act as apprentices to the instructor for vocational training, and enhance their future career opportunities (most camp residents in this age group are either unemployed or take unskilled labor jobs, and few attend university). Most importantly...there's art in the camps!

Additionally, camp residents who are skilled in any of the subjects (we've found musicians and artisans) will study with the instructor for the first month, and take over the rest of course instruction, in hopes to strengthen the pool of talent as well as income within the community.

So every week, up to 250 people can spend 4 afternoons less staring at an image of their lost loved ones in a waterlogged broken picture frame, sitting in their windowless sweltering tent. Every week, they can spend 4 afternoons more, learning a song or an instrument, laughing at each other learning a sily dance, drawing a picture for their mom, or learning a new language so they can more easily communicate and access resources available to them. This is a program that could be renewed in 3 months, but should collaborative tsunami relief efforts be sucessful, they would not be living in these camps three months from now. Yet, the way things are moving with the Sri Lankan Government, they may still be, and the best we can do is alleviate their suffering with what we have to work with today. With so much loss in the last months, we hope this program will inspire idle hands and help them to heal through creativity. They've seen enough destruction, now is the time for creation.

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