Greeting Card Exhange, Eastside Friends Meeting, Bellevue Washington

Hand painted Cards Help Support Art and educational activities for Iraqi Children By Sue Burrus

Imagine being a child in Iraq. Fear of attacks and bombings are a daily grim reality. Adults are extremely frustrated with so many things-the lack of security and jobs, extremely high cost of living, breakdowns of infrastructure-no electricity, no water. The list goes on. When adults find it increasingly difficult to cope, children suffer too. Now, imagine having to leave what is left of your home and travel to a different country where you are a refugee with whoever is left from your family. These are the children served by programs and projects organized by the Iraqi Children's Art Exchange in Amman Jordan.

In the spring of 2005, Eastside Friends (Quakers) became aware of an art therapy program in Iraq, run by civilians, working to help children deal with the trauma of war. For two years, all the money donated to purchase our hand painted cards went to buy art supplies for this project. By 2007, we found it increasingly difficult to get art supplies and games to the children in Baghdad. We contacted Claudia Lefko of the Iraqi Children's Art Exchange (ICAE) and learned of their work, initiating and supporting art-inspired projects that transcend the barriers of language, culture and politics to create important learning opportunities, foster communication, and promote peace and nonviolence.

We believe in the inherent creativity and loving potential of all children. We believe art can help children, stressed and isolated due to years of war and poverty, develop self-confidence, learn the value of working with others, and find creative and beautiful ways of dealing with stressful situations.

How the Card Project Works

Members and attenders of Eastside Friends Meeting (Quakers) provide blank cards, envelopes, and watercolor pencils. People of all ages, at Quaker and Interfaith events, create the colorful cards. It is a joy to watch the drawing and painting process! Volunteers often begin reluctantly, unsure of their artistic skills. However, many times after completing one card, the artist asks, "Can I do another?" The answer is always, "Yes!" Four or five cards later, the volunteers pull away from the table, satisfied with their contributions. The cards dry. Other people visit the table, choose their favorite cards, and make a donation-pleased with their one-of-a-kind originals.

The cards are sent to Jordan. There ICAE staff and artists distribute them to Iraqi children and youth, inviting them to create a card in response. These are sent back to Eastside Friends Meeting, creating a caring communication between communities.

All donations help support art-inspired programs for Iraqi children. We join adults and children, especially in Iraq and Jordan, praying that all Iraqi children will soon be able to carry on their lives in peace, a prayer extended to children throughout the world.

Sample Cards