For much of 2016 and 2017, four times a week art workshops were organized for refugee children at Mali Zmaj, an organization for children from underprivileged backgrounds. The children workshops are a result of a collaboration between various organizations including Mali Zmaj that hosts the workshops while Živi Atelje DK, Are You Syrious, and Jesuit Refugee Services provide transportation.
The role of Živi Atelje DK was specifically to coordinate the transportation, to find volunteers to help with or run the workshops and tutoring of illiterate children, and to set up pedagogical training for volunteers.
Živi Atelje DK also has organized art workshops for local children with the specific aim to also include refugee children to give them an opportunity to interact. With Društvo Afrikanaca u Hrvatskoj (Association of Africans in Croatia), Živi Atelje DK organized an African mask-making workshop.
Children are among the most vulnerable in the refugee community. The children, often coming from war-torn or post-conflict areas, have been exposed to traumatic events or difficult conditions. From a young age they have faced difficult conditions in their country of origin and during their journey that brought them to Croatia.
Families that are regularly deported to Croatia include children who have been moved around several foreign countries in the last two to three years. Lack of stability, the constant of the unknown, and exposure to stress make the children especially vulnerable. Some of the trauma is expressed through short tempers, through sensitivity (crying over a presumably small matter), loudness and a desire to rebel against any sort of authority including the well-meaning one.
The original workshop was once a week and would sometimes have up to 30 children of various ages, schooling and speaking various languages (Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish (various dialects), Turkish, Pashtu). Eventually, to facilitate a calmer learning atmosphere, four workshops were organized, a more ideal setting for working on specific skills such as team-building, problem-solving and communication.
Next step of the Children Art Workshops
The goal of Živi Atelje DK is to provide an opportunity for local children and the newcomers including those who are only in transit, to come together through art workshops. In the plan to organize workshops, a number of spaces will be reserved for children from the reception center.
One other plan is to find appropriate people to teach children alternative ways to communicate, ways to be calm and work through frustration and anger, and ways to work together. In addition, Živi Atelje DK would like to work on organizing specialized training for the volunteers involved from the drivers, to the assistants and mentors of the workshops.
If you are interested in volunteering for the workshops please contact us or consider a donation for the No Borders Program with specific instructions about what you are particularly interested in supporting. Thank you.