Art can have the effect of a shooting star on a chilly night of winter; it embraces our fragile hearts and uplifts the soul. By discovering ourselves through art, we have the chance to heal our wounds and relieve the pain we carry on.

Many people today talk about “art therapy”, which may include theatre, dance, music and performing arts. The major aim is to keep ourselves close to our emotions and let them go, once and for all.

All members of society might find their own way through art, or just experiment a space where they can be free without judgment or language barriers.

The usefulness of this experience goes beyond the possibility to simply build a creative environment for the people concerned, it allows them to express themselves freely in life.

For this purpose, SB OverSeas is implementing in Belgium and Lebanon new activities for youths with refugee backgrounds to handle their emotions, their vulnerabilities and the anger commonly found in teenagers. The pressure of being an unaccompanied minor living in a foreign country adds urgency to the necessity for self-expression. The deepest feelings, often misread and hidden for being too scary to face, can be released through a sketch or a few paint brushes.

Here is the therapeutic meaning of art, the idea of turning our emotions into something alive through the joy of creation. No matter how profound somebody’s wounds are, how long one has been suffering from homesickness and mistrust, the process of creation does not end. Despite one’s efforts to push feelings away and ignore them, the sub-conscious always finds a way to be heard someday.

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In January the SB OverSeas team organised a half-day art workshop with youths from the Uccle center. We attended an art laboratory named “Art en Ciel”, in Brussels, with six teens from the center and one volunteer joining the activity. The workshop was run by Pascale, the owner of the studio, who kindly gave them the basic tools to paint a rainbow and then to reproduce their favorite photo.

All of them were completely absorbed in their drawing and in the color mixture, without even noticing that the time was passing. I was struck by one boy’s painting whose shiny red and black shades attracted the observer.

There were giraffes at sunset and a black gumtree in the background, bringing one’s imagination to a remote landscape somewhere in Africa where wild animals gather to rest. Something very far away from our western routine yet close to whomever is homesick and receptive to the message within it.

By staring at the paintings hung on the wall, you will notice how much passion, nostalgia and sense of identity lives within these youths, entwined with the gratitude for being hosted in a new country, and the hope of being able to make it someday.

Written by Carolina Bertolini