Why is Rafiq covered in clay?  Read on to find out more…

BIG PICTURE FOUNDATION’S FALL 2017 “BEST IN SHOW” COMMENDATION goes to our group at the Harsham Refugee Camp, Erbil, Iraq.  They worked on the “Build a Fort” theme, inspired by a pitch from Julian P., of Rye, NY

Congratulations to Tamim, Rafiq, Aram, Sulayman, Barend, and Maher, our BPF kids at the Harsham Refugee Camp, in Erbil, Iraq.

 * all names have been changed to protect the safety of our BPF kids in Iraq

TEACHER: Mustafa

* all names have been changed to protect the safety of our BPF kids in Iraq

They made a BPF sprout garden, AND….

worked on the “Build a Fort” theme, inspired by a pitch from Julian P., of Rye, NY

The kids also made forts with popsickle sticks…


BPF DIRECTOR’S THOUGHTS: When given lemons, 19-year-old Mustafa, makes lemonade, like no other!  Last year, he volunteered to kick-start a Big Picture Foundation group at the Harsham Refugee Camp, in Erbil, Iraq.  He photo-documented buying art supplies, which he was able to do with a small contribution from kids in Rye, NY.  He also documented distributing the supplies to kids in his community who wanted to join the program.  Finally, on our Big Picture Foundation website, he shared pictures of the Iraqi kids’ finished work.

.This year, Mustafa’s group used ingenuity and resourcefulness to persevere.  They started by planting a BPF sprout garden.  Then, they worked on our 2017-2018 Shared Theme, “Build a Fort” (theme invented by Julian, of Rye, NY).

So, how do kids in a refugee camp build forts with extremely limited resources?  They used ancient Mesopotamian brick-making techniques.  They mixed dirt, hay, and water.  With their hand-made clay, they made bricks, which they turned into forts.

Thank you so much to Shared Studios and to the Rye Arts Center, for connecting us to this group, last Spring.

IMPORTANT NEWS:   On October 15th, 2017, Kirkuk was seized by the Iraqi military.  In one day, the military forcibly removed all Kurdish residents from their homes, both in response to a referendum of independence that had recently been drafted by Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, and because the town sits on a valuable oil field.  The swift action may have succeeded, in part, because the multi-ethnic region is divided among Arabs, Turkmens, and Kurds.  Furthermore, within the Kurdish population there seems to be unrest.  Many residents fled to Erbil, Iraq, the site of the Harsham Camp.  The government also seized parts of Erbil, most likely in an effort to maintain control of the region.  The United States supports Iraqi national soldiers, as well as multi-ethnic soldiers, in their fight against ISIS and ISIL.  Mustafa let us know that he and the kids at the camp were scared and felt as if violence was escalating.

NOTE ABOUT THE BEST IN SHOW AWARD:  In order to win the “Best in Show” award, Big Picture Foundation groups must submit projects that specifically use art for outreach or that are in-line with our “Shared Themes.” 


Read about the history of Mesopotamian clay bricks

(hover mouse over images for photo credits)

just cover art sharper


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