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Animated scenes of celebration and war

We arrived during Eid Mubarak celebrations, Ramadan having just finished. The tensions of the last four weeks seemed to have lifted: the more celebratory atmosphere in the camp very much made its way into the psychosocial tent with themes of drinking, dancing and socialising expressed in the work.

There were drawings made of farming the land back home in Eritrea, growing maize to eat and herding cows, along with images of Eritrean temples and an Ethiopian church carved into the rock (made in plasticine).

One Afghani man made a film about playing football, going to school and having fun with his friends in a disco – activities forbidden in his country. His beautiful film is imbued with a sense of frustration but also hopefulness. His friend who accompanied him into the space angry and seemingly disengaged, soon helped to finish the film which seemed to shift something in his own mood.

Darker themes of war, trauma and oppression were also brought into both the artwork and discussions. An Eritrean man who had witnessed the death of many people when his boat was cut loose from another on route to Italy, started off by making drawings first of his experience of Libya and then a map of his country. He managed to come back the next day with another friend and, despite the traumatic memories he clearly lives with, he was able to make an animation of a cobra fighting with Shrek, the latter taking on the role of superhero and, with a touch, kills the cobra.

Following on from last week, we again set up the animation studio in the state/MSF-run clinic porta-cabin on Friday morning and were happy to see people from the hospital return. A Sudanese man brought with him an extraordinary drawing he had made in the intervening week using paper and pens he had taken with him. It seemed particularly important for him to share with us this beautiful yet chilling image of war in Dafur. A young man from Afghanistan also returned to continue the war scene animation he had started last week.

We were pleased to lead a training session for volunteers from Medecin du Monde in which we provided a space to think about the work, its subtleties, difficulties and potential for connectivity. Because of the popularity of plasticine in our sessions in the camp we invited the group to use it to make something during the discussion. This added another layer of dialogue to the session and the volunteers expressed surprise at how powerful and unexpected using the plasticine was, and what emerged from this process.

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