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Rebuilding Lives Through Art Therapy

A group of 45 youth volunteers and practitioners in the areas of counselling, humanitarian and peace building work participated in a half-day art therapy workshop on Saturday, 7 July 2018. The workshop entitled Art Therapy: Facilitating the Healing of Survivors of Abuse and Trauma is a partnership between the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) and The Red Pencil Humanitarian Foundation, a Singapore-based humanitarian organisation.

Art therapy is a gentle and sensitive, yet powerful therapeutic approach to healing and recovery for those who have faced the unspeakable. Facilitated by Ms Laurence Vandenborre, experienced art therapist, and Founder & Managing Director of The Red Pencil Humanitarian Foundation, the workshop gave participants an understanding, experience through theory and hands-on directives in art therapy. The tools are helpful in rehabilitating children and families affected by abuse and trauma, and can also help survivors of natural disasters and conflict areas heal and chart a journey towards a better and more hopeful future.

According to Youth Development Officer of Masjid Maarof, Muhammad Asyraf Yusoff Subri, attending the workshop makes him appreciate the differences in how people express themselves through art. He finds it relevant in incorporating art therapy in his youth work at the mosque as it can enable youth to express themselves more clearly through colours instead of words.

Deputy Director of Programmes, Advocates for Refugees Singapore (AFR-SG), Selene Ong further added that that in her past humanitarian missions, art activities for children were usually used as a distraction for the children, in a corner, as they carried out their humanitarian work. After the session, she realises the importance of art as a form of psychotherapy, and that it is as important as psychosocial support. It gives a perspective of how art therapy can be put into practice especially in humanitarian work.

Meanwhile, another participant, ambassador of Roses of Peace, Wan Nordin, finds art therapy as a creative way to share diverse experiences. He finds it relevant in his work in Roses of Peace as he facilitates experiential conversations about differences in races and religions. It is a creative form of facilitation which enthuses more conversations through art and not confined to only words.

The art therapy workshop is another capacity building initiative by RLAF which aims to expose and acquaint young volunteers and activists on the principles and processes behind impact-driven development humanitarian projects. The Foundation had previously organised two training programmes this year namely ” Foundations for An Effective Humanitarian Volunteer ” and “Design Thinking and Project Management” in community development projects.