Dark to Light: A Syrian Child's Journey

Conflict, Healing & Hope

painting: Wadea Haddad

The Expressive Art of Syrian Child Refugees

The Syrian war is exacting a heavy toll on an entire generation of children, who have experienced first-hand, the death, destruction, and violence of war. If left unsupported, these children will carry with them the debilitating scars of profound brutality and loss. We hope to draw attention and resources to the challenges they face.

Since 2010, the Polus Center has been working in the region providing rehabilitation services to civilian war wounded victims of conflict, through a generous grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs/Office of Weapon’s Removal and Abatement, and in partnership with Jordanian and Syrian NGO’s in Amman.

Dark to Light - A Syrian Child’s Journey, is an exhibition of expressive paintings on loan to us from injured Syrian refugee children who have crossed the border into neighboring Jordan. There Polus Center provides prosthetic rehabilitation services and psychological trauma care at the Sir Bobby Charlton Centre for Support & Rehabilitation in Amman.

Polus Center for Social & Economic Development is working with some of the Syrian war's most vulnerable victims. Children who have experienced multiple traumas are receiving physical and psychological trauma care through our program at the Sir Bobby Charlton Centre for Support & Rehabilitation in Amman, Jordan. video : Troy Word

Expressions of Both Horror and Hope

This exhibit highlights the transformative impact expressive therapy can have on the rehabilitation process of children experiencing multiple traumas. These images reveal a continuum of recovery reflecting powerful emotions the children feel, but often do not have the words to express. Over the course of the therapeutic process the subject matter slowly shifts its focus from dark to light, death to life. As hope emerges it reveals a depth of resilience, courage, and optimism for the future that, if supported, will carry each child through the healing process placing them firmly along the road to recovery.

ARTIST Personal Narratives

Click on the image to read more about the artists Eman Al Shayab, Kahled Masri, Fatima Al Dayat, and Sami Farraj, showcased in this exhibit below.

How YOU Can Help

Make a donation to the prosthetic rehabilitation and trauma therapy program in Jordan, on our 2018 Wounded Angels fundraising page

Purchase a print of one of the children’s expressive paintings. Photographer Stephen Petegorsky has printed beautiful archival reproductions that are available for purchase online, or at the exhibit.

  • Eman Al Shayab (16) grew up in Daraa with 11 sisters and 5 brothers. On summer vacation in Sept. of 2012, an airplane flying overhead dropped a bomb killing two of Eman’s sisters and badly injuring her leg. At 11 years old her leg was amputated to just below her knee, and she returned to her home in Daraa. She stayed there for seven months, but the food and medicine were so scarce that she was forced to leave for Jordan with her sister. Together they arrived at the Zaatari camp in June 2013 where a psychologist recommended her to the Polus Center program at ADT’s Al Bader Center. There she began her therapy. Eman says that when she is producing art her stress goes away she is transported to a dream world where everything is happy. Painting her experiences in this state allows her to attain a better perspective on what has happened to her. She wants to use her art to spread the message about what is happening in Syria. Her dream is to become a famous painter with her paintings in galleries around the world.
  • Kahled Masri, a 17-year-old resident of Daraa, with cerebral palsy lost his family in the Syrian Civil War. He made his way to the Bader Center in Jordan to receive treatment and experienced severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At first, Khaled could only walk on his tiptoes with assistance. Mood swings and low self-esteem drove him to self-isolation. Gradually Khaled regained control of his body and mind with treatment and learned to walk again with physical therapy. Art therapy provided Kahled with training to become a prolific painter. Today he lives inhahe Zaatari camp, paints and continues to work with ADT and the Polus Center. In 2017, Kahled’s paintings were chosen by Giles Duley, a professional photographer to be exhibited along with his own work in an upcoming exhibition. Khaled’s goal is to become a famous artist, a doctor or a football player.
  • Fatima Al Dayat grew up in the Syrian countryside, living with her parents and 5 brothers in the village of Ghouta. She was 12 years old when an airstrike by the Syrian Armed Forces devastated her home killing her entire family and damaging her spine, leaving her a paraplegic. After several unsuccessful attempts at different rehabilitation centers Fatima was brought to the Al Bader Center to participate in the Polus Center program for physical and psychological trauma therapy. There she went from being a full paraplegic to moving independently with a walker. Through the art therapy program, Fatima discovered a love for painting and demonstrated exceptional ability. In time she improved socially, she started wearing make up and showed other outward signs of confidence and socially efficacy. Now her ambition is to continue her healing process and to pursue an education.
  • Sami Farraj lost his home and parents in the spring of 2011 when Syrian Armed Forces entered the village of Ihnken, Daraa. Eight-year-old Sami and his older brother fled to Jasem, a “safe zone” village where a bomb killed two of his young cousins and injured Sami. He was rushed to a field hospital at an abandoned school where both legs were were amputated. In 2013 the brothers traveled to Zaatari camp in Jordan for medical help where Sami encountered ADT and the Polus Center. He underwent two additional surgeries, and began physical therapy to prepare him for prosthesis. Psychological trauma therapy program introduced Sami to painting. His art work ranges from dark depictions of the trauma, a strong connection to family, newfound love, and hope. For the first time since his injury, Sami says he feels life is worth living. He loves theatre and continues to find joy in his painting. Sami has performed in several productions at a Zaatari camp theatre and hopes to become a lawyer, a painter, or a theater artist.