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Wednesday 16 October 2019
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Art stories of migrant children

In-Between, Stories of a refugee at Medulla art gallery on Fitt Street, Woodbrook.

Photo: Sureash Cholai
In-Between, Stories of a refugee at Medulla art gallery on Fitt Street, Woodbrook. Photo: Sureash Cholai

For three days 12 refugee children and adolescents between 12 and 17 were invited to an art therapy workshop to express their feelings about being a migrant child in TT, in a collaborative partnership between the Living Water Community and Medulla Art Gallery on Fitt Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain.

The workshop included children from Venezuela, Pakistan, St Vincent, Cuba and Dominica.

They painted three large murals called Home, The Journey and Hopes and Dreams.

Home represents where they came from. Hopes and dreams represents their future and The Journey represents the in-between space of being a migrant and adapting to a new country.

On Thursday a panel discussion was held at Medulla to discuss their work.

Photo: Sureash Cholai

Here are some of their paintings:

Sian McLean, psychotherapist and art therapist, told Newsday the children were aware their art would be viewed by the public, so they wanted everything to be perfect because they were representing all refugees.

This child wishes their country would get better. An 11-year-old girl from Venezuela told Newsday she loved that the streets of Port of Spain were so clean compared to Venezuela's.

"The world is filled with colour. Sometimes it's bright and sometimes it's dark."

This was written by a 12-year-old Pakistani girl. Her family are Christians and faced both religious and political persecution in their country. Fearing death, they fled their home and came to Trinidad in 2016. She is learning English through reading and her favourite books are Black Beauty and Dork Diaries.

One day this boy's family had money for normal things like Christmas presents and food, and the next year they did not. That's why families seek asylum in other countries, for a better life and to be able to eat.

Translation: I want to have a beautiful future.

These migrant children often experience xenophobia from TT citizens when all they want to do is make friends and be happy in the country they have no choice but to live in.

"TT welcomes refugees," one person wrote on the response wall.

The paintings the refugee children did were mostly full of love and joy.

The In-between stories of a refugee exhibition closes on July 25.

Feel free to download and share their stories, and keep posted to Newsday for an in-depth feature of the event.

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