- Art Activism for Community Development -
Dr. Ephrat Huss, a lecturer in Social Work and Art Therapy from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, held workshops and training sessions at the Sarvodaya Training Centre in Batticaloa, in eastern Sri Lanka on ways of using art to bolster the emotional resilience of children affected by war and other psychotraumas.
Dr. Eytan Shouker, artist, photographer, art and community activist and senior lecturer at Jerusalem’s prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design presented projects in workshops that taught how art can galvanize a community to action that produces results. One example was a project in which teenagers recycled old tires and garbage, and employed chicken wire, concrete and brightly-coloured paints to create a communal meeting place.
Both professionals were at the Sarvodaya Training Centre courtesy of Tag and the JDC to share innovative methods and techniques developed in Israel.
“Tag is always committed for the long-term.”
Mr. Careem, Director of the Batticaloa Training Centre, Sri Lanka
The project addressed the psychosocial needs of child victims of the tsunami and the recently-ended civil war. In addition to the workshops, meetings were held with local professionals to contribute to the concept of using art as a tool to build community cohesion, mobilize communities, and motivate children to return to studies after years-long gaps, such as those caused by displacement and war.
The following day, some of the theory was put into practice in Kangrankuda Village. Large blank pages were arranged on the floor and taped to the outer walls of the one room that serves as classroom, clubhouse and community centre for this destroyed Tamil village to which displaced former residents have begun to return.
The children, and even several adults, eagerly accepted the spanking new boxes of colours distributed by the Tag volunteers from Israel. There was an especially poignant moment when a middle-aged man who had never tried his hand at drawing before sketched the temple he longs to rebuild in his home village.
As the founder and spiritual mentor of Sarvodaya, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne said when he welcomed the Tag team on their first day in Sri Lanka, “Art has something to do with heart. The problem with the world is that we give undue importance to the head, to intellect and science, and a less important place to love – there is no better way than art to reawaken the heart of our people after the brutal war.”