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Art Therapy Practice at Ristsona Refugee Camp Last Week

30 November 2016

The Flourish Foundation Art Therapists continue offering sessions to the residents of Ritsona refugee camp in Greece as they near the end of their short-term art therapy service.

Last week we saw many changes to the physicality of the camp, the army arrived with lorries and trucks and removed the large community hall, the debris of tents and placed twice as many caravans. This upheaval accompanied a sign, which was erected outside the entrance; it states the camps ‘official opening’ date as the 22nd November 2016. This has left feelings of confusion and anger between the NGO’s and individuals in Ritsona as they attempt to find meaning to the previous 8 months seeming to be unrecognised by officials.

We felt an unsettled atmosphere within the camp this week amid its changes and the news of further civilian deaths in Syria as the civil war continues.

In our directives we created butterflies for the children to make and attach to string. This idea came as we watched a child with ‘no entry’ tape tied to his wrist, running to see it fly behind him.

In the 6 to 8 year old group we heard many times the tutting of the children and witnessed the physical rejection of their creations. As art therapists we found ourselves wanting to provide positive regard to their creations to help improve self-esteem and self-worth.

During the group for 12 to 15 year olds one young girl attended who had not revisited the space since our very first session. She remembered the image she had first created of a large school with 3 female characters seeming to move towards the school. She had previously told us that she would not be attending the school in nearby Chalkida as they were teaching the students Greek and she was learning English. Within the session she sat quietly with her image turned away from the therapists. She used felt tips to apply colour at times in vigorous strokes, she appeared to not want to be disturbed and to be engrossed in her image finding it difficult to end at the finishing time of the session, and explaining that she would be back to complete the image in our final week...

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The Flourish Foundation will be exhibiting photos of their work at Ritsona refugee camp at the Attachment and the Arts conference on 2nd December.

You can follow the Flourish project by clicking on the links below:
Facebook: @flourishfoundation 
Instagram: flourishfoundation 
Twitter: @FlourishCharity