Every child needs a safe space to play, learn, socialize and express themselves - Shalome's Story
Shalome, 14, lives in Mahama Refugee Camp and creates art to sensitize his community on COVID-19 as part of an awareness campaign. With this aim, Shalome, pictured right, was spotted drawing with a pencil at one of Save the Children’s Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) on June 4, 2020.
Since 2015, Save the Children has operated a CFS in Mahama Refugee Camp to give children a protected environment to play, learn, socialize, and express themselves. As of February 2020, before measures were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, 8,625 children attended the CFS.
Although CFS are now closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shalome asked for special permission from Save the Children to use the space to work on his awareness campaign. Occasionally, Shalome is granted access to the CFS where he continues to make art to raise awareness.
Save the Children interventions benefit 31,900 children living in Mahama Refugee Camp. Shalome intends to use his art to reach a wide audience and convey lifesaving information on prevention. “My artwork helps disseminate messages to all kinds of people and shows them how to protect their life and how to prevent themselves from contracting COVID-19,” explains Shalome on the purpose of his artwork in his community.
“Save the Children is helping us through initiating competitions and encouraging us to work hard and to think of new, stunning masterpieces. I can see progress through this competition,” added Shalome on the role of Save the Children to foster creativity and support young people in Mahama Refugee Camp.
Seeing the value of the arts for children amidst the global pandemic, Shalome calls for, “Save the Children to bring a drawing school to the camp.” When asked how such a school would operate during COVID-19, Shalome recommends, “I’m in this CFS alone. I would suggest that if they bring a school, they limit enrollment to five children to respect social distancing.”
Shalome in his own words:
“I love drawing so much, but I love playing basketball too. I would say that when I grow up, I should do both drawing and basketball. But if there was a chance at a professional school of drawing, I would choose to strengthen my drawing skills because I really enjoy drawing.”
“Drawing is the thing I want to do at the highest level, at a national level, the level where I may be the best of the best drawers. I can even teach others.”
“Drawing is sincerely my hobby. I am encouraged when I see my finished masterpiece.”
In honor of Day of the African Child on June 16 and World Refugee Day on June 20, Save the Children, in partnership with UNHCR, launched an art competition. Even though life in Mahama Refugee Camp has changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, still more than 10 children are drawing at home and participating in the art competition. In celebration of Day of the African Child and World Refugee Day, children who produce the best artwork in the competition will be recognized online by UNHCR.
Shalome is entering the art competition and submitting his drawings which strive to inform the community on how to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.