On May 4, 2009, a few months before my graduation from Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts, I took the bus to Maine to visit my friend Al Miller. I was reading an article for my school when I found my mind drifting off as an image of a “Mobile Arts Bus” appeared before my eyes. I had a vision of a beautiful, colorful bus traveling throughout Palestine, bringing creative arts to the children and the people who work with them in the villages, cities and refugee camps of Palestine. The bus was filled with boxes, containing creative materials and these boxes were filled with puppets, musical instruments, props, paints, colored paper, markers, balloons, a kite, sand and water. The bus traveled to the children who happily ran screaming and jumping up and down as the bus approached. They yelled at the top of their lungs, the “Mobile Arts Bus” is coming; the "Mobile Arts Bus” is coming. The bus door opens, I greet them, and they climb up to our small mobile art room.
Upon my trip home to Cambridge I began to think, this “Mobile Arts Bus” can become more than an image in my mind, but a reality. Many hours of brainstorming and planning, has brought this dream to reality. I am returning to Palestine to bring the “Mobile Arts Bus” to the children of Palestine. And now, three years later, I am seeking to make this dream a reality. For the past three years, I have roamed in the West Bank and Jerusalem and worked with students and teachers, counselors and clients, women and children, but my small car is not enough to contain all the boxes that I saw filling the shelves of the Mobile Bus. Finding spaces to work with my people in Palestine is not always easy, and my biggest hope is that this small bus will enable me to reach them where ever they are. I hope you will join me in making this dream true.
Due to the political situation where the Palestinian people are living under military occupation manifested by checkpoints, the Apartheid wall and severe restrictions on movements, people are unable to reach community centers where they can access services for therapy and healing.
Using a well-equipped bus with materials necessary for the project, we can travel to these people and give them access to these resources and services.
Although there are plenty of centers using arts to primarily service children struggling with their daily challenges under occupation, once removed from these centers due to distance, checkpoints and the wall, families do not prioritize this service or seek it given the difficulties in reaching these centers and therefore deprive themselves and their children of a much needed outlet for their suffering.
Usually art centers focus on children. This traveling bus will also service adults, and especially women who traditionally are the care givers to children and therefore the ones who need to be equipped to use expressive art therapy tools and means to help themselves and their family in coping with their conditions.
This project will start by training 3 or 4 assistants who are able to travel in the bus to reach the locations of service. These assistants through their initial training (1 extensive month) will be able to assist in administering the expressive art therapy to people participating. Through their work they will gain more experience and knowledge. Follow up training and workshops throughout the year will enable them to acquire more tools and solidify their knowledge and experience.
As the bus travels through refugee camps, villages and towns, in addition to servicing the communities, we will create a nucleus of people who will attend and participate in these sessions. This nucleus will assist, observe and learn rudimentary tools during the bus’s stay in their area. As we re-visit their areas, we will maintain communication with this nucleus to involve them with any further activities on the bus. In the future these nuclei in various locations will become the future trainees who will participate in longer-duration and extensive training in the field of expressive art therapy.
The ongoing occupation, trauma and curfews require that each of the communities under siege be equipped with tools to deal with this out of the ordinary inhumane situation. Therefore the long term vision of this project is to create a nucleus well-equipped in human and material resources in all of the communities we visit that is able over time and training workshops to carry out this service in their community.
Part of sustaining this project in impoverished and isolated communities is to teach the community how to use green and inexpensive methods such as recycled materials, from cardboard, metal, plastics and natural resources, like mud, sand, twigs, leaves etc … in carrying out the expressive art therapy programs.
Critical to our success is outreach and communication with already established institutions such as the Ministry of Education (schools), Ministry of Social Services, women's centers, mental health community centers, theaters, art centers, and other civil society institutions that may help us identify those in need of expressive art therapy.
The money that will be raised with your help will allow me to buy a Van that I will then turn into the Mobile Art Bus.
I'm a counselor and I work with art as a therapeutic tool. I travel through Palestine to work with children, students, counselors and teachers. What makes my work interesting is that no checkpoints or walls can stop my art tools from reaching Palestinian villages, refugee camps and towns to allow people to express themselves. And for the last three years I have witnessed how much expressive art helps people in dealing with the harsh political circumstance we live in.
Here are some of the testimonies:
Using the activities we did during our training with you made me pay attention to how our children can be creative when they get the chance t explore and experience their creativity.
The expressive art course helped me use my time in useful and creative ways. Today I belive that each person has the ability to be creative and needs the chance to practice and discover this creativity.