The number of refugees arriving to Hungary reached its peak in the summer. Thousands of people stayed in camps and transit zones all around the country, in most of the cases waiting to travel towards Western Europe.
Does painting give hope to refugees? Can drawing be a tool for children to deal with their traumas? How is a Hollywood actor supporting the refugees, while shooting a film in Budapest? Stories from the (inter)cultural perspective of the refugee crisis.
Visiting the transit zones next to Keleti railway station during the summer was an experience one would never forget. People washing their clothes in the taps, whole families living in small tents, newborn babies lying on blankets. Children received little toys and sweets from the volunteers, who found time to play some games with them. Often musicians, clowns or artists arrived on the spot to entertain the kids in the hours or days of waiting.
Besides all these activities, drawing with children was also an important way to keep them occupied. Not only it is a tool reaching over the barriers of language that they can enjoy, but creating pictures also moves their imagination, and they can give out the tension and fear inside them. This way art can serve as a therapy for children to cope with the traumas they had to deal with, fleeing from war in their home country.
One of the most shocking collections from children drawings was posted on The Wall Street Journal in September. “With markers, crayons and colored pencils donated by volunteers, they work quietly in small groups, squatting or sitting on the ground” – wrote Margit Feher in the article. The pictures often show war scenes, bombings, firing helicopters, tanks and dead bodies. Next to the papers depicting horror and hope, we can see the little artists: the Hungarian photographer, Aron Suveg took photos of the kids behind the drawings.
The controversy between the suffering of the war and the positive attitude towards the future also appears in some of the drawings. The most famous picture of this kind is made by a young Syrian refugee. A police department in Germany tweeted a photo of the present they received. A line in the middle divides the scene: on the one side we can see tragedies of the Syrian civil war, and on the other side, the child’s imagination about the refugee life in Germany.
In the times of such a humanitarian crisis, several artists, actors and musicians raise their voice, and try to help the less fortunate. The American actor, Billy Zane for instance bought tickets for an entire train of refugees in Hungary, and he was helping in many other ways as well. Besides fulfilling the basic needs of families, they started a psychosocial art therapy for kids, who are staying at the transit zones at the Keleti railway station.
“I am here to support the humanitarian aid” – told Billy Zane to Humans of Transit Zone. “I was in town making a television pilot when the crisis exploded at the station. I am buying tickets for the refugees to be able to leave to Germany and other countries in Western Europe.”
Billy Zane started painting back in 1997, when they were shooting Titanic in Mexico. Since then, he continues his passion, and in the beginning of September he decided to exhibit and sell some of his works at Budapest, in order to help refugees. “I had an art exhibition, and we decided to proceed to the humanitarian relief, so I invited the Hungarian Red Cross to my event, and the received money from the sales of art works was offered for them”.
There is yet another way painting and creativity can help people, who are fleeing to Europe in order to have a better future. Talking to a Kurdish man, who had to leave Syria, escaping from the terror of the Islamic State, it turned out that his talent might help him in making a living right after arriving to Germany. “I studied at university, I’m an agricultural engineer, I used to work at an office in Syria” – he told. “I am quite good in drawing, so first I might just paint people on the street, and ask for some money for it.”
For this man, art is a possibility to start a new life in the western world, for children it can serve as therapy, and for the Hollywood actor it is a way to give a helping hand to the ones in need.