| Jan 17, 2024
Healing Through Creativity in Palorinya
Palorinya refugee settlement in northern Uganda currently hosts over 122,000 refugees, most of whom have fled armed conflict in South Sudan. Over half of all refugees in Palorinya are children, who are at extreme risk of child protection issues. Only 15% of adults are employed, and with general feelings of helplessness, they struggle to care for their children. In this context, the imperative for safeguarding the well-being of children and youth is paramount, necessitating comprehensive protection programming. IsraAID has been delivering programs in Palorinya since it was established in 2016. Our team specializes in strengthening community-based responses to protection challenges within the refugee settlement.
As part of our ongoing programs, we recently partnered with The Campfire Project, a group of artists and therapists specializing in bringing arts-based interventions to vulnerable refugee populations. 10 Campfire team members ran a two week camp, providing over 500 refugee children and youth with constructive activities to occupy them during the school holidays. Through stilt walking, music-making, storytelling, and mural-building, they created a safe space for self-expression and narrative reclamation. These creative activities were also therapeutic tools, enabling children to process difficult emotions and foster individual and collective resilience.
"The arts are our original language," says Alexandra of The Campfire Project. Despite differences in native languages among the children and adults, artistic expression transcended words, allowing children to connect, share their stories, and find solace in creativity.
Participants in the camp were already engaged in IsraAID Uganda's protection programs and the Campfire Project's approach reinforced and enriched our existing efforts, ensuring impact would extend far beyond the camp itself. This impact was exemplified in a vibrant performance by the children of Umeji Village for the entire community. Joined by a local marching band and musicians, the children performed joyful songs and dances born from the Campfire experience.
We have previously worked with The Campfire Project to deliver programs for Ukrainian refugees displaced to Moldova and partnered once again in Palorinya. Our collaboration is a testament to the power of arts-based interventions in refugee communities, demonstrating how creativity can become a bridge to healing and community building. While the challenges in Palorinya remain considerable, IsraAID and our partners will continue to find innovative ways to empower refugee communities, foster resilience, and nurture the seeds of hope, including through the transformative power of art.