“The Paint Brush Will Replace the Barrel of the Gun”: Displaced Syrians Use Talents to Serve the Community

Even in the toughest circumstances, displaced people in Syria are finding ways to bring art back into their lives.

Through the Camp Coordination and Camp Management program, our community mobilization team supports the lives and well-being of displaced people. Actively listening to the needs of camp residents, we tailor our work to include meaningful activities, trainings, and engagement opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Participating in these activities helped three men in one camp find ways to use their talents to help others.


man standing in front of mural

Jawdat designed and painted a mural in the displaced camp he lives in.

Jawdat, an artisan skilled in home restoration and decoration, sought refuge at a northeast Syrian camp with his family when fleeing conflict six years ago. Despite the harsh conditions, Jawdat’s held onto his artistic passion, using any materials he could find to keep creating.

He has been an engaged member of the camp community since his arrival. Jawdat found his place alongside our community mobilization team, who feel like family to him and have supported his artistic endeavors throughout the years.

This year, our team entrusted Jawdat with a meaningful task—to paint a vibrant mural that would lift the spirits of the community for World Refugee Day. The result captivated our team and his fellow camp residents.

Upon finishing his masterpiece, Jawdat made a heartfelt wish: “I hope that the brush will replace the barrel of the gun, spreading the colors of love and peace in this brutal world.”


Anwar opened a bakery in his tent in a NE Syria displacement camp, where he sells bread and other baked goods to his neighbors.

two men inside a tent holding bread

Anwar, another camp resident, battled anguish and isolation before reviving his talent and love for baking. Our team had been visiting his tent regularly to offer psychological support and encouraged him to start baking again. The team even acquired an oven for him to use.

Inspired, Anwar borrowed money to buy flour and started a small bakery in the camp. A delicious aroma of freshly baked bread filled his block, and his bread quickly became popular among his neighbors. His home-based bakery brings good memories of home and enables him to pay off debts and meet his family’s needs.

With newfound confidence, Anwar is motivated to become more active in his community. He now serves as a sector leader, amplifying the concerns and interests of his neighbors to encourage improvements.


young man sitting a crafting table with supplies in front of him

Mahmoud encouraged other residents of the displacement camp he lives in to contribute their artwork to an exhibition open to the community.

Mahmoud is well-known in the community for his creativity, artistic talent, and hopeful attitude.

Mahmoud was central in developing an art exhibition that our community mobilization team held. Excited to participate, he created his own artwork and encouraged friends to join the event including a group of young people who met in their free time to do arts and crafts. In total, 18 camp residents contributed their artwork.

The exhibition was a success with more than 100 visitors, giving artists at the camp the opportunity to showcase their work, sell their crafts, and take pride in what they do. Mahmoud felt proud, too. He realized that despite the difficulties everyone faces at the camp, they had been able to create a space to share their hopes and dreams.