COMIC THERAPY FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN
In Berlin, Germany, a refugee help group — PassTheCrayon — began using the comic site’s Comic printables to help Syrian and other refugee children learn the German language. They translated the text for the comic-drawn printables into German and also used them for art therapy for the children.
Says Sevin Ozdemir, one of the group’s founders, MakeBeliefsComix.com was introduced to three refugee sites where they visit weekly to help Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi and Afghani children learn German. They use art therapy to inspire them after the trauma and horrors they have experienced in leaving their countries.
The group’s co-founder, Martin Ringenbach, says that in using MakeBeliefs’ cartoon printables, “the kids expressed their inner fears about violence.’’ Using, for example, a printable that depicts a street vendor and asks the reader to write or draw what the vendor sells, ‘’a young boy spontaneously drew a military tank and some guns. He also drew the street vendor with an evil face,” said Ringenbach.
The refugee help group is seeking 40 laptop computers to expand their programs to other sites. Ozdemir recounts her own experiences in using the printables with the children. “Others worked with their imagination instead of their memory. They created the world they wanted to live in and including dealing with metaphysical questions.’’
She said a 12 year-old refugee girl responded to a printable that asked, ‘’Make believe you could wave a magic wand. What two wishes would come true?” The girl, she said, expressed the wish to be a rabbit instead of a human and exchange her position with this creature in order to be able to experience another life other than her former self.
“By using the MakeBeliefsComix.Com tools, each refugee kid can express their inner feelings or vision of one question that seemed simple, but in reality, there are a million ways to answer that simple question. This makes our work all the worthwhile,’’ said Ozdemir.
Says Bill Zimmerman, creator of MakeBeliefsComix, ‘’It never ceases to amaze me how the site finds new innovative uses. It makes me feel so good that the website is helping to make the world a little better.’’