Sisters Noor and Manal sit in CRP’s classroom, fully prepared and ready to go ten minutes before the class starts. Their homework lies before them on the table; it looks like they’ve been eagerly looking forward to Calligraphy class.
Noor and Manal grew up in Basra, Iraq. They came to Jordan ten months ago, settling down with their family in Hashemi Shamali. Their only connection to art before starting classes at CRP was an artist uncle who lives in Canada. Now, the two sisters are artists in their own right.
Calligraphy is one of the most important art forms in the Middle East. Although the alphabetization of the Arabic language itself has historic connections with Islam, calligraphy as an art form is practiced in many religions and cultures. Complex and intricate pieces are found in many mosques, churches and homes, but also on cars and jewelry.
CRP started offering calligraphy classes in May this year. The goal was to create a space where people feel safe and have room to express themselves creatively while learning a useful skill that could also benefit them economically in the future. As part of both the education and trauma relief programs, students have classes twice a week for six weeks per course.
Noor started art classes at CRP six months ago and immediately liked it so much that she brought her sister along. Because they are not enrolled in school, calligraphy and painting is an important part of how they spend their days. You need a steady hand to draw neat lines, so learning how to calm down and concentrate on the task at hand is a crucial part of calligraphy. The course thus also helps participants increase their focus and productivity. “Calligraphy practice has definitely made me more productive in general,” Noor confirms.
At the same time, the artful way of writing also contributes to trauma relief. “Being able to creatively express what’s inside me has made me feel more at peace,” Manal affirms. “There’s a direct link between art and peace. With all the wars that are going on, people are anxious and afraid. Art helps them to express things that are hard to put in words.”
Drawing on the positive influence of creative expression on trauma relief, CRP has started integrating art-related activities and classes into many programs. Benefits include reducing built-up anxiety, stress relief, and a more positive access to emotions.
On the other hand, Calligraphy class is also the first time for some people to learn handwriting. Progressing in this way from barely being able to write all the way to creating pieces of art in the course of a few months gives a lot of refugees a sense of pride and accomplishment. For some people, it can mean to find a new passion in life, one which they might dedicate their career to. Noor puts it this way: “Learning how to create art has positively changed my outlook on life, and I’m considering making a career out of it.”
CRP tries to include beneficiaries in the program design and development whenever possible. When asking what kind of programs they would be interested in, beneficiaries expressed strong interest in art-related activities. As a small organization, we are able to flexibly adapt to demand by our community and implement programs if the funding is available.
Calligraphy is a low-cost program that relies on individual donors. Donate today to make sure this program runs smoothly and helps many people to find peace in their lives. And when you donate any amount this week, a group of generous supporters will give CRP a bonus $50!
That’s right, they have pooled together $5K in the hopes that 100 people give us a donation, so make yours now! Donate here.