Artolution started working with refugees impacted by the Rohingya Refugee Crisis at the end of 2017. Lead artists and Artolution Co-Directors, Max and Joel, have traveled to the Balukhali refugee camps in Bangladesh, the largest camps in the world, among other camps, to create community art projects with refugees, as well as to bring joy and hope to the lives of children. Artolution was the first organization to bring community-based arts programming to the Balukhali camps.
Over 1 million Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes, making the Rohingya crisis the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. The refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh survived traumatic and harsh conditions to get there. The camps that house the refugees are crowded - the largest in the world. A history of violence complicates relationships and community building efforts. There is also a lack of opportunity to grow and connect with others and the world outside of the camps.
Artolution's programming provides critical community building and communication opportunities for refugee youth. Workshops with Rohingya refugees focus on storytelling, interactive dance, song, and visual arts that empower youth to share their story and shape their own narrative. Artolution provides an outlet for children to dream beyond their current situation and find joy and potential in their lives. Communities are able to share and heal together.
The project will reach over 1,500 children in the next year and will include interaction and training with dozens of local artists, establishing a strong foundation for the Rohingya community's continued engagement with the arts as an outlet for expression and relief, despite any challenges they may face in the future.
Global Citizen reports from Balukhali Camp