Wednesday, May 28, 2014

George Butler draws the Syrian refugees in Lebanon

The following illustrations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon come from George Butler. Whatever you think politically, the human crisis which we are all sharing is inescapable. I know there are no easy answers, but visualizing the problem could make it more real and approachable to some.
The captions under the photos come from Butler himself and are copied as is from their original source.

These items belonged to a family of four who spent a night in the mountains before arriving in El-Qaa in the northern region of the Bekaa Valley. Their new home was a makeshift tent on agricultural land. Rent was covered by working in the fields for the Lebanese farmer. The children grabbed the teddy bear and soft toy. The mother grabbed a box that she knew the torch was in. All the other items just happened to be in the same box. Even though some of it is useless, such as a TV remote, they could not bring themselves to discard it.
The family that brought these belongings from Syria arrived in Lebanon from the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. George had drawn one leg on the doll and, before he could draw the second leg the youngest girl asked: “Why does my doll only have one leg?” She then asked the room if the missing leg had been lost during the war. No adults present had any response. Children regularly express confused and troubled notions about the war and parents express deep concern regarding the effects of the prolonged and extreme trauma children are suffering.
These two brothers showed us the box of possessions their mother had prepared before they fled. Practical items such as Vaseline and toothbrushes contrast with her ID card and sunglasses for her daughter. Some people thought about what they would bring, while others simply left.
The weekly visit of a mobile medical unit to this camp in Kamed el-Loz is crucial for the residents. The medical team provides around 60 consultations free of charge. Primary healthcare needs are addressed with advice and referrals for more serious conditions. Some residents are UN registered and receive food vouchers, while others struggle to find work. We were treated with heartwarming hospitality and drank tea with several families. Their exasperation was clear. “Whatever will happen … let it happen now. With or without Assad, just no more war. We don’t even talk politics any more. We just want an end to the killing,” said one man.
A health-clinic visit in al-Ain, Lebanon. Two clinical psychotherapists from Doctors of the World held a group consultation to address mental health concerns. The response was immediate. “What are you talking about ‘mental health’? We have no health, neither physical nor mental, only this torture!” one woman shouted. Across the room, another woman added: “No matter what you’re going to try and make us aware about, or what treatment you’re going to offer us, we just want to go home. We would rather die in Lebanon than live here like this.” Despite the initial hostile response the session continued and most of the women expressed some relief at being able to talk about their fears.
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