By Noura Saad | Hay Khabriyeh!
“I keep on waiting and I feel that I am lost”, sister of a missing exclaimed. The families of the disappeared are surviving, yet, their hearts and minds are with their beloved who disappeared during the war.
The families are unceasingly trying to get their voice heard in their quest to advocate for the right to know the fate of the missing and forcibly disappeared in Lebanon. Still, little has been done to offer psychological support for these families or honor those whose fate is still unknown. That is, up until recently.
The Memorialization Art Project was initiated by ACT for the Disappeared and Abaad – Resource Center for Gender Equality, and aimed to alleviate the families’ emotional isolation and empower them by participating in a collective effort to remember their loved ones and restore their rightful place in society.
Guided by art therapist Myra Saad from Artichoke Studio – Art Therapy Center in Lebanon, a group of relatives of missing persons from different regions joined their effort to design and implement a collaborative artwork honoring their loved ones.
Art therapy brings a unique approach to better deal with difficult emotions.
In a creative and playful environment, the sessions were directed to nurture a stronger sense of self, restore healthy coping mechanism and strengthen the support network of the families. For most of the participants, it was the first time that they participated in such a group. “The focus was on what the expressive work symbolized to the participants and the meaningfulness it held,” art therapist Myra explained. She added, “Taking part in such a communal art project and actively creating a personalized memorialization empower the families and help them regain a sense of control and accomplishment.”
From Tyre to Tripoli, passing by Bourj Shemali Camp, Beirut, and Jbeil, the relatives of the missing wanted to honor their loved ones publicly and encourage the local communities to recognize their suffering and their right to know.
The cherry on top was the event that took place in Jbeil last Saturday, February 26. The participants inaugurated in Jbeil’s public garden the mosaic which is inspired by their work, an event funded by the European Union and with the great support of the Municipality of Jbeil.