In a community library inside a displacement camp in northeast Syria, residents are finding relief from the harsh realities of life. Located in one of Blumont’s centers, the library offers men, women, and children access to books and art supplies.
The library, constructed in 2021 and run by our teams in the camp, serves as a place to read, learn, and gather. Community members can visit the center during their free time to enjoy the library’s resources and attend reading, writing, or painting workshops.
Abdullah, a young man who works in construction, comes to the library every day after work, puts his toolkit in the corner of the room, and settles in to read a book or paint.
“One day, he came to the library but was not carrying his tools. Instead, he had a painting in his hand,” said Newroz, one of the Blumont librarians. “The painting portrayed a man with a book surrounded by the sun and stars, representing a person who reads from sunrise to sunset. The canvas was made from recycled materials, an old piece of tent cloth mounted on a wooden board from an old cupboard he owned.”
“Every day, I work until three o’clock and, when I come back, I pick up my brush and start imagining a brighter future for myself,” shared Abdullah. “Even if the world outside is sad, I will give it color to make it happy.”
The library offers residents, particularly young people, a safe space to express themselves and find positive outlets to cope with the trauma of displacement. They see the library as a haven, where they can explore new ideas, build new skills and friendships, and imagine what the future can hold for them.
“Art is a wonderful talent that people use to express what is inside them, especially children,” said Khanem, a camp resident who works at the library. “Through art, they strengthen their self-confidence, and it helps them live with the reality imposed on them.”
For many residents, art gives them a space where their imagination can be as powerful as reality.
“I often draw trees in my paintings,” said Khadija, another artist who visits the library. “I have planted trees in the camp, and they did not live, but in my paintings, they are always growing and flowering.”
Library participants are using their new skills to bring color and hope to the camp.
Below is a collection of artworks created by 10 artists, who were part of an art gallery hosted at the library. More than 300 camp residents visited the gallery to admire the creativity and talent of their neighbors.
Click through the gallery to view the art