Mural in Beirut’s Armenian neighborhood. Beyond Borders’ creative collaboration with Fearless Collective

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“what is home, how do we make it, why do we leave it, homes away from homes, makeshift homes, tents as homes, crumbling buildings as homes, people as our homes, a backpack as home, no home. homelessness. migration. being a refugee. or in exile. self exile. homes forced upon us. comforting homes. what is your story? and how can we fearlessly reclaim our idea of home? “

From 12th – 19th February, 2017 Beyond Borders group’s 5 members joined the Fearless Collective in Beirut, Lebanon for a creative collaboration. The day right after we arrived the Fearless Collective held a storytelling workshop where each of the participants (we were about 20 people from Beyond Borders, the Fearless Collective, locals from Lebanon, including Armenians, Palestinian and Syrian refugees, Ethiopian migrant workers and expats living in Lebanon) would sit one by one by a large chest and unpack whatever was inside the chest while telling our story of home and then we would pack all the things back into the chest telling about how we want to envision home for ourselves. Many of the stories about home were filled with violence, being uprooted, being immigrant, refugee, migrant, abuse, but also beautiful things like nurturing grandmothers, nature, olive trees and childhood. It was quite intense and beautiful.

The following days we spent with each other, sharing more stories, asking each other about home and how we can create a temporary home together, singing songs, listening to rap, exploring the city to find walls to paint on, interacting with locals in Beirut. Finally we found a wall in Bourj Hammud, which is a predominantly Armenian neighborhood in Beirut. It was very intense for all of us…the neighborhood is full of Armenian flags, graffiti about nationalism, self-sacrifice, remarks about “Turkey guilty of genocide” and the memory of this tragedy is quite alive in the people there. It was quite sad to see that in parallel with Syrian Armenians and Syrians refugees living in former camps where Armenians lived one hundred years ago escaping from Ottoman Turkey through Syria. In the neighborhood we decided to paint the mural the neighbors were very welcoming and kind to us, giving us tea and food.

We ended up doing a beautiful mural and left Beirut with good memories and fearless spirits.

 

You can read more about Fearless Collective here