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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Congolese refugee children, Tanzanian students form art bond

10th February 2012

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)has reiterated the importance of training children arts to expose their talents through art initiatives.

This was revealed yesterday by the UNHCR Deputy Representative, Chansa Kapaya when briefing journalists on the ‘bridging the lines’ art initiative held at the UNHCR office in Dar es Salaam.

The four-day ‘Bridging the Lines’ project was implemented by Ujamaa Art gallery and the UNHCR focusing on working with Congolese refugees children form primary and secondary schools living in the Nyarugusu refugee camp and with neighbouring primary and secondary schools with Tanzanian children in Kasulu district, Kigoma region.

The envoy said the influx of refugees in the country back in 1996 was caused by volatile or instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the same situation has prevented the refugees to go back home.

“So we have worked together to give these children opportunity to express their hopes and aspirations through artistic endevours,” she said

For her part, the Director of Ujamaa Art Gallery, Lorna Mashiba said the idea of the project was to nurture the artistic talent of refugee and Tanzanian children by exposing them to specific art techniques from renowned Tanzanian artists.

“We want them to know how UNHCR together with its partners facilitate projects that benefit the Tanzanian population in the refugee –hosting areas through documenting the learning process of teaching arts while utilizing pictures, film footages and publications to promote similar teaching endevours to children from marginalized communities.

“We held a three-day workshop from January 23 to 27 this year in the Nyarugusu refugee camp for 140 children of whom 40 were tanzanians living in the neighbourhood and 100 were Congolese refugees,” said Mashiba.

The URG director noted that all the 140 children from primary and secondary schools participated in the project.

Haji Chilonga a Tanzanian artist said they were exited and amazed by the talents the children have.

“In normal circumstances, an artist’s work can take up to two weeks to be complete, but these children within three days of our training, had already accomplished the arts they were working on,” said Chilonga.

The children, according to Chilonga, had an opportunity to experience and exhibit water colours, pastels, acrylics and coloured.

The groups is expecting to hold an exhibition mid February this year where to raise funds to support artistic training for the refugees in Nyarugusu.

“The proceeds generated from the sale of the artworks , colouring books and post cards will go towards the procurement of art equipments and educational materials for schools in the Nyarugusu refugee camp and the adjacent host communities,” said Mashiba, Ujamaa Art Gallery Director.

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