Syria's ongoing civil war has ignited one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time, with hundreds of thousands killed. The number of refugees is staggering. Countless Syrians are displaced—including over one million children.
Amid all this, what can one women's clothing store in Bend do about it?
Plenty, it turns out.
The effort begins with art. Brave Collective's upcoming "Tiny Art Auction" will raise money and awareness for Mercy Corps' effort to help Syrian refugee families. The Portland-based nonprofit works to assist young people in war-torn nations, including Syria and Iraq.
The folks at Brave Collective took the effort straight into Bend elementary schools, hoping to get local students involved in making and donating art. "We found that the art-making process becomes a catalyst for discussion and that's what this is all about—to get people talking about tough issues," says Jennifer Riker, Brave Collective's Tiny Art Auction coordinator.
Mercy Corps provided Brave with a stop motion animation video of a 14-year-old Syrian boy – depicting what his life is like as a refugee. He can no longer go to school and has a job in a mechanic's shop. "He basically has lost his youth, along with his hopes and dreams," Riker says.
Bend students responded, with one elementary school alone donating more than 300 pieces of tiny art. Riker hopes the experience helps students understand that "when their entire family is sitting around the dinner table, they know that not all families in the world are safe and together.
"I also think the kids appreciate knowing about the struggles of other people, and that they, with their own tiny hands, can make a difference by making tiny art."
Brave's Tiny Art Auction
133 SW Century Dr., #100, Bend
Thur., May 18, 5:30-8:30pm