Publisher online May 30, 2018 on Morgan Hill Life

Think of everything you have or hold dear in your life: your home, your job, your family. Imagine leaving it all behind, on short notice, to flee your homeland, threatened by bullets and bombs, chaos and chemical weapons. And then when you reach a destination you thought would be a safe gateway to a new life, you are trapped. Caught between politics and preservation.

Love Without Borders – For Refugees in Need aims to provide hope for those caught in the crossfire of Syrian regime, now living in camps and housing communities in Greece. Through their art and other programs, the international grassroots organization generates income, helps refugees get medical aid, and keeps families together. On June 3, GVA Café will host an art show and other activities to help the cause.

According to a recent press release, “Thousands of Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugees have fled their war-torn countries, with many of them landing in Greece as they await entry into Europe and reunification with family members who have already made the journey. Love Without Borders – For Refugees in Need is committed to supporting these refugees. The art exhibits will display the refugees’ artwork which highlights their hopes, dreams, and individual experiences. All works of art onsite will be available for purchase, with 100 percent of each sale going directly to the artist.”

What began as a peaceful uprising against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in 2011 has turned into a civil war, which has shown anything but civility, leaving more than 350,000 dead and more than 55,000 missing or presumed dead. More than half of Syria’s population of 22 million has been displaced.

“The situation is still very fluid,” said Kayra Martinez, the organization’s founder, who is also a flight attendant. “Every month there is a different need. Sometimes I meet the boats. I try to stay close to the camp. I get to know people, find out their needs.”

Kayra funds her organization through her own earnings, along with some donations, to provide supplies. She says she has enjoyed watching the art evolve, especially from those who didn’t realize they had any artistic abilities. “Now they’re accomplished artists,” she says.

She works with a U.S.-based technology company, NeedsList, to provide canvases and other materials from local sources in Greece. Not only does this support the local economy, it eliminates the hassle of packing and transporting supplies. Anyone wishing to donate canvases or other supplies, can go online and do so.

When Kayra first became aware of the refugee situation, she worked with various organizations. “When I’d go to check on (the refugees), I was kind of like a social worker,” she said. The goal was to locate vulnerable families, place them in homes, get them to doctors, find them some clothing, get their children into schools, help them get a food stipend.

She also started teaching women in the camps to make jewelry, a craft that would allow them to support themselves. “They don’t want to wait in line for food,” Kayra said. “They want to be independent.”

The programs of Love Without Borders – For Refugees in Need help people in a terrible situation find rays of hope. Not only can they express themselves through art, but they are able to help themselves, too. The programs have been expanded to several areas of Greece now, but the need is still great.

For those interested in attending the art show, “We look forward to discussing the situation on the ground and admiring the artistic talents of the refugee children,” she said. “(They) have had a lot of trauma in their lives. It’s a great way for them to express their emotions. It gives the children something fun and different to do.”

War is a complex, multi-faceted issue, one that is impossible to explicate or rationalize succinctly. What’s simple about it is this: Innocent human beings caught in the crossfire of war-ravaged regions are still human beings. And their misfortune should not dictate their fate. Through art, Love Without Borders – For Refugees in Need helps give people the opportunity to control their destiny, one canvas at a time.

DETAILS

Love Without Borders – For Refugees in Need Art Show.

Sunday, June 3, noon to 4 p.m.

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GVA Café, 17400 Monterey Rd., Morgan Hill

Tickets: $15 at www.refugeeartshowsbayarea.eventbrite.com

To learn more, visit http://lovewithoutborders4refugees.com/

To donate supplies, visit NeedsList: https://needslist.co/group/4

Donna Lane

Donna Lane

Donna Lane is a storyteller and San Jose native who earned her journalism degree at San Francisco State University. She lives in Gilroy with her family, who inspire her to celebrate life each day.
Donna Lane