On -isms: Haawiyat

By | Thursday, May 25, 2017 Leave a Comment
Comics for Youth Refugees Incorporated Collective (CYRIC) is a not-for-profit group that is trying to help fill a hole in the lives of refugee children. Other groups are working on getting basic survival items like food and shelter but, as you might guess from their name, CYRIC is focused on getting comic books in the hands of these kids.

You might ask, "Why?" After all, comics aren't exactly a necessity when you're displaced from your home country, likely because of violence. People are naturally going to concentrate on survival. To quote from their mission statement...
In conjunction with mental health professionals and on-site experts, the tales are adapted for their potential healing content. Supported by the principles of art therapy and the use of comics’ unique visual-verbal hybrid for therapeutic use, we aim to encourage children not only to reconnect with their homes but also to express themselves through the medium as well.
CYRIC's first comic is fairly simple; they're calling it a proof-of-concept. Eight pages, black and white, all of the work for the stories was donated. The stories aren't long or complex; they're adapted from Syrian folklore and basically all promote the idea of being good. But geared as they for 6-12 year olds, there's no need to get into lots of grey moral areas or convoluted storytelling. A mother sacrifices her own food to feed her children, and her children in turn sacrifice some of their food so that the mother can eat. A jeweler is hired to fix an earring for the princess, but his evil brother "loses" it, only to have the earring turn up again before the King's return. A miller is tricked into an impossible task by an evil djinn, but a good djinn recognizes the miller's character and helps. Nothing complicated; just something to provide refugee kids for free so their lives aren't completely horrible.

So how did this proof-of-concept go over?
Our partners at NuDay Syria have generously provided us with images of the kids receiving and reading their copies of Haawiyat. Says one of our contacts there, "The kids were super excited to read over the stories, and in some cases distracted me from photographing since they were eager to read to me!"
CYRIC is trying to keep the ball rolling with more via a crowd-funding campaign. "For phase one, all production and services were donated or volunteered," explained project leader A. David Lewis. "In phase two, we hope the expanded incarnation of the title will have more stories, be in full color, AND go out to many more deserving children!"

They're currently fund-raising via Razoo here. Please do what you can to help make kids like these feel normal and happy again.
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