Be the Peace - Be the Hope across the World

Our programs are currently implemented in refugee camps, orphanages and schools in Africa (Burkina Faso, Rwanda), India, Middle East (Iraq, Lebanon) and Europe (France, Greece).

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Hope in Burkina Faso

Thousands of Malians fled their homes to seek refuge in Burkina Faso from the uprising extremism in the surrounding nations.


In 2012, two refugee camps were established in Northern Burkina Faso to house the thousands of displaced Malians. Today, the camps are managed by IEDA Relief and UNHCR in partnership with the government of Burkina Faso.


Acknowledging the magnitude of the refugee crisis, the “Be The Peace Be The Hope” program invited Houston students from 12 schools (CyFair ISD, HISD, Baker-Ripley Charter School, Post Oak School), four community centers, (Agape Development, India House, Taiwanese Heritage Society Houston, YMCA), and 20 Harris County Public Libraries to respond by creating over 600 powerful paintings depicting messages of Hope and Love for the children in refugee camps.   

Elise Sheppard, a Harris County Public Library librarian, told us, “Many High school and college students didn’t know there were refugee camps around the world. This had been an eye-opener for them. Many said they would like to volunteer and help.”


In October 2016, our international team of 12 committed educators, art therapists, facilitators, and videographers* implemented the “Be The Peace-Be The Hope” Educational and Healing Arts Program for 10 days in two refugee camps in Burkina Faso: Mentao and Goudebou (30,600 total refugees). We trained 20 permanent camp educators who assisted in the implementation and continuation of the program here. 

  

As Jolie Guifayou, a Burkina Faso UNHCR program Faso stated: “It is a good program, it allows children to know themselves because when we know ourselves, we give ourselves value, but when we do not know who we are, sometimes we think we are not useful. You are coming with a program that puts children's life at the center, it's going to allow these children to imagine, to have hope, to understand that they are not unique in their suffering as refugee children. They will understand that they have value, they will understand that they have roots."


* The Be the Peace – Be the Hope Team in Burkina Faso included Karine Parker-Lemoyne (Head of the mission) Alicia Campos, Curry Glassell, Eisha Khan, Fadila Kibsgaard, Nishtha Joshi, Leila Kengueleoua, Cecilia Norman, Cynthia Ouedraogo, Naiyolis Palomo, Lex Parker, and Dimitri Pilenko as well as Noel Bezette-Flores, Caroline Edmundson and Britain Venner in Houston.

Testimonial

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Testimonial

Cynthia, BTPBTH Team Member

"I want to tell you the story of a little girl named Nuria I met in an orphanage in Burkina Faso while implementing Be the Peace Be the Hope this past December. Nuria is a 6 year-old girl. When we met, I was told that she was mute. So, for the first 2 days of the program she said nothing. She would just smile and nod when spoken to. But the more I observed her, the more I could tell something wasn’t right. I then asked the caregiver if she was born mute. “Has she ever spoken before?” Yes, I was told. “she used to be a very smart and talkative little girl, but she stopped talking after witnessing her mother dying in front of her. Since the death of her mother everyone tried to make her speak but for the last 2 years she had not said any words.


       So, touched by her story, I held her as we were about to recreate the circle of trust, and encouraged her to tell me one word, just one word. After 20 minutes of just waiting I asked her “what is your name?” “Nuria” she said so smoothly. I then asked “do you like the work that we are doing with you” “yes” she answered again.  After 2 years of silence she said 2 words. Therefore, Be The Peace-Be The Hope exists.  I have seen children as young as 7 express their pain. We help them open and allow peace and hope to occur in their lives. We create a platform for the vulnerable ones who don’t have a voice and yet they are the ones who teach us the most important lessons. They are the future and reaching out to them now and giving them tools that will help them succeed and shape their future is why we exist.

 

      What happens in the life of a child and how they cope with it will determine who they will become tomorrow. We can’t help every child, but we will help as many as we can until the end by being the peace and the Hope we wish to see in the world. We are all responsible."

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Life in Goudebou, Refugee Camp, Burkina Faso

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17,600 Malian refugees live in Goudebou, located near Dori in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso bordering the northeastern countries of Nigeria and Mali.
Half of the refugees speak French, and the other half speak Tamasheq, the native dialect of the semi-nomadic Islamic African tribe called the Tuaregs, or “Free men.”

Realities of War Through the Eyes of a Child

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When asked to draw something they feared, most of the refugee children drew scenes of war that they lived through.

One of the first stages of the Be the Peace – Be the Hope healing process was to create a safe place for the children to express painful memories they may have repressed. This may have been the first time any of them had a chance to externalize these memories.

Hopeful Thoughts

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In the next stage of the workshop, our team and camp educators invited the children to move beyond the images of painful memories. To do so, we encouraged them to draw inspiring images of what happiness and hope means to them.

Deep in Thought

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By transitioning from drawings of painful memories to hopeful thoughts, the process gave the children space to express their emotions in a safe way, and recognize their own potential for positive outlets. 

Electrifying Intensity

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It’s very difficult to find time to reflect or to find a release from traumatic experiences when food, water, and safety are your daily concerns.

Electrifying intensity occurred when the kids were able to release these painful memories through the activity of drawing. The children were transformed as they began to smile, became more engaged, and their eyes opened wider. 

Goodbye Ceremony Circle

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On the last day of our camp program, we joined the children in a large circle of Hope. In the middle of the circle, our team and the camp’s teachers sung out to them the song that we created together called “You are the Hope.”

The song was written in collaboration with the teachers at a weekend training session in Ouagadougou before we visited the camps. 

This is Home for Now

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Typical home tents in the refugee camp i the sprawling Sahel desert

Love

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Traditional blackboard wisdom

Sewing Hope

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Camp Youth combining their art with the artwork created and sent by Houston’s Youth. 

The Tree of Hope

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Designing the Tree of Hope that illustrates the roots as our past acquired references through family, school and community, the trunk as who we are, our qualities and values, and the branches as what we will bring into the world. 

A Protected Path to Love & Hope

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The day we left, the kids were invited to walk through a path protected by the elders, the teachers and the Be the Peace – Be the Hope team to acknowledge their participation, experiences, and to offer hope for their future. 

Hope in Iraq

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  • In September of 2017, our international team led by Karine Parker-Lemoyne was invited by a French NGO, Elise Care to  implement the “Be The Peace-Be The Hope” Educational and Healing Arts Program for 16 days in one medical center and the Darkar refugee camp in Northern Iraq (8,000 total refugees). We trained three psychologists and two permanent camp educators who assisted in the implementation and continuation of the program there. 
  • We are very grateful for the support of Elise Boghossian and the Elise Care team in Iraq as well as of Dr. Noel Bezette-Flores, Dr. Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi, Dina Al Bayati, Eisha Khan, and Jade Darwich who generously assisted Karine Parker in adapting the curriculum and the assessments to the context in Iraq. 
  • The Iraqi psychologists who were trained by Karine Parker and took over the program in Iraq shared: "Perfect program that we really needed. It was also an important social gathering for children who found through Be the Peace - Be the Hope an opportunity to share and to speak honestly to others. They also found important tools that helped with the healing process."  
  • Many students had breakthroughs. For instance, Saeed shared: "Yesterday I had a weight on my heart and a lot of sadness. Thanks to the Healing Box, I left the sadness behind. Saeed, after trying to share with us in the healing box activity that he saw his parents die under the bullets of Isis, broke down in tears. After being able to express his sorrow more deeply and been comforted by the team and the children's community, Saeed started smiling again as if he had released a very heavy weight. Then Saeed helped us a lot in many of the Be the Peace – Be the Hope activities and put his hand on his heart to thank us. He told us he found very beautiful that we were are all united together."  
  • Most of the students shared: "I learned...
  • ...to feel more confident about myself, to have hope, ...how to share and respect others, ...that we are united and we are all one big family, ...about respect, love and collaboration, ...a lot of things such as being strong and help other people, ...that all of us should protect and respect the community, ...how to be myself, how to help others and that in union is the force....  

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Be the Peace Be the Hope in India

Social and Emotional Healing Arts workshops

 Grace House is a non-profit, live-in facility that provides sanctuary and full-time care to some of rural India’s most vulnerable girls. These youth have experienced unspeakable violence, abuse, poverty and loss of family.
In July 2018, BTPBTH implemented its social and healing arts program to 40 girls between 6 and 14. Grace house provides a great support system where nurturing relationships can flourish. The girls are still struggling with the impact of past abuse and current situations including bullying, family violence. 

During the program, the students of Grace House were administered four separate surveys.  

 The largest percentage of positive change were in: Self-Efficacy, 35.53%, Respect, 22.69%, Resilience, 21.46%, Physical and Emotional Safety, 27.45%.  Creative Thinking, 9.86% and Relationships 4.6% were also statistically significant. The researchers propose that due to the strong relationships already developed between the children that the program did not see as high of an increase but still identified positive significant change.

An approximately 46.15% decrease in anxiety between the pre and post administration of the anxiety survey was reported.    

Overall, the program was extremely successful. In the write-in portion of the survey, in response to item #6, “Do you have more hope after doing the Be the Peace-Be the Hope activities, if so, Why?” 100% of the students stated “yes”, with most students stating that they enjoyed the “Healing Box” and learning to trust their friends in activities such as the “Circle of Trust”. Item #5 of the open-ended responses asked students, “What is one thing you learned about?” approximately 76% of the students responded, “Love”, 15% stated “Helpful”, 9 % “Respect”. 100 % of the students stated that they liked “everything about the program”.

 

As Stacey Smith, the “Grace House India” founder stated:” Between the Circle of Trust, the Healing Box and the messages of Hope, we found our girls opening up to each other and the staff on campus in ways they never had before.  We were able to learn about past abuse and wounds as well as current situations the girls are trying to deal with on their own. Being able to build a bond of trust and allow the girls to express their pain through art was truly reforming for them. Especially those who had hidden things for years. Everyone was so much lighter and so full of hope knowing that we are one and that there are people who can be trusted and even understand what they are going through.” 

Learn More

"We go to Grace House to give support, and we receive so much more from the Children than what we could ever give. So, what I want to share with the people who have not visited Grace House yet is: “First, I am so happy for you. Then, please go with an open and simple heart so that you can genuinely receive the wonderful Love that the Grace House girls have to give. And if you really want to discover who the girls are, all you have to do is spend time with them. They have so many stories to share and so many questions to ask too! Look at them in the eyes with a gentle smile, ask questions too (about their favorite color, their favorite animal…), dance with them, sing with them… and listen. This is where Love resides.” - Karine Parker

Click here for the video

Bridges of Hope

Grab interest

The "Be the Peace - Be the Hope" program invites the youth from our schools and community centers to share a spirit of hope, peace and mutual concern with children in refugee camps. Globally, an estimated 8 million children are living in camps after being separated from their home and family. not expecting a safe return.


We respond to this by encouraging children from both worlds to exchange drawings and words of significance combined in an art installation to beautify tents in the camps, educate and inspire hope. The effort will be mirrored in prominent locations around Houston by showcasing a tent replica along with a traveling exhibition documenting the whole process.


Delivered through the powerful medium of art created by children for children, these messages symbolize positive intentions for the future. By cultivating compassion, awareness, and global connection through simple actions, this program expands the youth's collective capacity for dialogue and for uniting forces in order to create the positive change they wish to see in the world, despite disparate situations. 

Documentations & Exhibitions

The “Be the Peace – Be the Hope” pilot program culminated in several traveling exhibitions that document the “Cycle of Hope” shown below. Displayed in various locations, including Houston Public Libraries, Harris County Library, participating schools, and the tunnel at Houston City Hall, these exhibitions took viewers on a visual journey from life in Houston to life in refugee camps and back. These presentations have offered glimpses of the entire program through photographs, video footage, and personal art pieces created by the children from both worlds. Participating students from Houston were invited to curate their own mini-exhibitions of the project in the participating schools and community centers.


The exhibited works of art are excerpts of the “art quilts” created by combining the children’s individual art pieces to cover the refugee tents and bring hope to the camps. The photographs displayed were intermingled, presenting children from Houston and from the camps mixed together. In addition to the indoor traveling exhibitions, we had also showcased a traveling replica of one of the “hope tents” in various outdoor locations around Houston. Inside the replica tent , there was information about the “Be the Peace – Be the Hope” project, personal stories by the participating children from Houston and from the refugee camps, and a documentary of the creative journey in action.


As a citizen led call-to-action, we will host a contest inviting the Houston youth to propose ideas and projects that encourage local actions of hope. Entries will be juried, and the winning proposal will be granted funding for its implementation in the Houston community. The idea behind these exhibitions is to demonstrate how hope can travel through different countries and cultures through the compassionate spirits of children. Through this program, children can create bridges between their cultures, using simple actions to plant seeds of hope locally while sharing hope across oceans where it can take root and spread even further.

Once Upon a Hope

ONCE UPON A HOPE / IL ETAIT UNE FOIS L'ESPOIR

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  • In support of the Be the Peace – Be the Hope program and in the context of the 2017 French Cultures Festival, the Texas French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA), French Education Greater Houston (EFGH), The Wide School, Eagles on the Rock, and Mark White Elementary  are joining forces to create an exchange of tales/stories of Hope between children from Houston and children from the refugee camps in Burkina Faso where the Be the Peace - Be the Hope team recently implemented an educational and therapeutic art program, children from the Orphanage - APFE Center. We are very happy that the Wide is joining the movement.
  • The goal of the project is to cultivate an exchange and a bond between the children of the two countries through French and English language while sensitizing the children of Houston to the situation of the children who found refuge in Burkina Faso. In doing so, we encourage them to keep developing hope, use their creativity so that they continue being part of the  Be the Peace - Be the Hope exchange, and support each other.