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Finding Peace in Exile

Finding Peace in Exile is a program that empowers and activates women residing in refugee camps, ultimately creating a safe space for them. During the workshops female refugees discover different ways to renew second hand clothing, use makeup, paint, pose like models, amongst other things, always focusing on developing their own ideas and tastes. It is a blissful time when all worries stay behind the door, women embrace their femininity and have the freedom to dream. 

The pictures are the final product of a meaningful time spent together. They serve to redefine the word ‘refugee’, in order to break the barriers, reminding the true victims whose future is very dependent of our voice. The future of our world will be defined by how we act today - whether we offer a helping hand, speak up for the ones unheard, or pretend injustice is not our collective issue. 

Ritsona refugee camp, Greece 

''In the village of Ritsona, 50 miles north of Athens, razor wire dissects vineyards on a hillside. Inside the perimeter, crumbling concrete buildings and open fields, long abandoned by the Greek military, are now home to 900 refugees.

Ritsona is one of dozens of camps administered by the Greek government and aid agencies throughout the country. Refugees and migrants used to spend just a few days in the camps before traveling elsewhere in Europe, but in March 2016, the European Union put an end to that. All those who arrive in Greece are now indefinitely contained or sent back to Turkey.

Conditions in the camps are unpleasant at best. Families are packed into tiny rooms; only a fraction of the children are being admitted into government schools, where classes are conducted exclusively in Greek; and the eagerness of volunteers to help is waning.'' - Ashley Gilbertson

Shatila camp, Lebanon

‘Unseen: Revealing a lost generation’ is a photographic series of young Syrian girls refugees living in Shatila camp, in Lebanon.  

Inside the heaving refugee camp called Shatila, where the girls photographed live, -  the camp was originally built for 3,000 Palestinian’s in 1949, but is currently home for about 40,000 refugees, with more trickling in every day. Electricity is intermittent at best, the salty water that runs through the pipes is not useable, parents struggle, having a lack of work, or if lucky enough to have work, only earn the lowest of wages. Parents are forced  to send their children to work instead of to school, to play and laugh with friends. These children are in risk of becoming a ‘lost generation’.

Lebanon is the country hosting the most refugees per capita. There is a number of barriers for Syrian children to  even access the educational system in Lebanon. The language of instruction poses difficulties for Syrians in coping with host country curricula, Syrian children experience discrimination, violence, acculturation and lack of support in the classroom. With the increase of the scale of the crisis, and hostilities toward the Syrian refugees, the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education has already started to adopt an exclusionary approach by banning new Syrian children from registering in public schools, whilst putting pressure on UN agencies to sponsor afternoon school shifts for Syrian students only. The lack of this information makes it difficult to assess progress. It is still too hard to find answers to basic questions about whether Syrian children are getting an education, and if not, why.

Meanwhile Syria’s children are overwhelmingly suffering in “toxic stress” from the brutal war - a war-related stress, brought on by bombings, loss of family and friends, and near-constant insecurity. If not given urgent support for the children, they (we) will suffer the consequences of untreated trauma in the years to come. Lack of education is compounding the problems that Syrian children experience. Older kids are forgetting what they have learned, and many younger ones have never had regular, uninterrupted education.

The high number of refugee children out of school is an immediate crisisEducation is a fundamental right and crucial to protecting children in situations of displacement, which can last an entire childhood. It is in the interest of all of us to avoid a situation in which a whole generation of children are denied an education and left less able to coexist with the world

Without education,there is no civilization. With education, they can rebuild everything. If they become an uneducated generation then Syria is destroyed. 

Special thanks to the NGO's that have supported the program - 

SB Overseas, Lighthouse Relief

List of designers that generously donated their designes for the workshop -  113 MaisonAldo Järvsoo, Bruno Grebert, Colmillo de Morsa, Elvana, Erle Nemvalts, FankadelikFebruary FirstIsa Arfen, Jane Kivistik, Karmen Mänd, Katrin Aasmaa, Ketlin Bachmann, Krete Beljalev, Kätrin BeljalevLiisa SooleppLilli Jahilo, Rachel LovelockRiina PõldroosTanel VeenreKatrin Aasmaa, Mariliis Niine, Natalia RiveraSita Murt, Social Fashion Monsters, Taavi Turk, Meik by Arinda

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