How Artists And Activists Are Using Creativity To Respond To The Refugee Crisis

Manicures and music are raising funds, awareness, and spirits for the thousands of people currently living in camps.

The worldwide refugee crisis is as urgent an issue as ever: in December, the number of migrants who had crossed into Europe in 2015 reached one million. Thousands are currently living in camps, including one of the largest, in Calais, nicknamed the “Jungle” and currently home to approximately 6000 migrants who hope to travel to the U.K.

Responding to a crisis of humanity like this one isn’t always about financial donations—though they are crucial to the continued running of the camps—it’s also about finding ways to spread positive attitudes, and to tell the stories of the people behind the headlines. Everybody needs to find ways to cope, or even escape their situation, and ways to be heard. From beauty treatments to performances of Shakespeare, these are some of the creative ways people have been helping others make it through this traumatic time. Scroll down to find out how you can get involved.

WAH Nails boss Sharmadean Reid stopped by the weekly beauty day at the Women’s Centre in the Jungle, giving out manicures to migrants.

#calaisjungle #womenscentre #beautyday

A photo posted by Sharmadean Reid (@sharmadeanreid) on

The nail artist, entrepreneur, and all-round cool person wrote on Instagram: "I've met women from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea...all of asked me for lipstick and mascara...beauty in the face of adversity."

While there, Sharmadean also highlighted a volunteer who translates movies into different languages and screens them at the centre.
Kindness, Scroobius Pip, Robert Plant, and more have worked with refugees to create original music for a Red Cross project.
How Artists And Activists Are Using Creativity To Respond To The Refugee Crisis   Photo courtesy of Red Cross

The Long Road is a concept album coordinated by British charity the Red Cross, pairing musicians with refugees in order to tell the stories of those fleeing conflict in music.

Adam Bainbridge, aka alt-pop artist Kindness, met a Syrian man named Ayman. Bainbridge told The FADER: “I hope that projects like these, using the strength and power of a story sourced directly from the individual, become more common.” Learn more and listen to the song, “A Retelling,” here.

Fashion illustrator Miss Magpie has been documenting her experiences and observations of the Calais Jungle in drawings on her Instagram.
In London, a new Banksy recently popped up near the French embassy highlighting the use of tear gas on migrants.
This followed the appearance of Banksy work in the Jungle itself in December 2015.

Steve Jobs, son of a Syrian refugee, makes an appearance in the Jungle | #theworldwidetribe #banksy

A photo posted by Jaz O'Hara | Worldwide Tribe (@theworldwidetribe) on

Travel blogger Jaz O’Hara has moved to the Jungle and developed her blog into a project to support refugees and document their stories.

Among other endeavors, Jaz and her growing team have developed a plan to instal WiFi in the Jungle and produced a documentary on the people living there.

An Eritrean refugee has built a club in the camp called the Peace & Love Bar, as featured in Dazed.
And Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company traveled to the Jungle yesterday to perform Hamlet.
If you would like to help:

As Sharmadean Reid advised when she spent some time in the Jungle, anyone wishing to send supplies should send in bulk rather than creating custom packages (as this creates more sorting work for those in the warehouse at the camp). Before sending anything to Calais, consult the regularly updated list of items that are currently needed. You can also buy and donate essential items directly via outdoor store Leisure Fayre.

The project Music Against Borders is collecting musical instruments to be sent to the camp—they can be contacted on musicagainstborders@yahoo.com if you would like to send something. The Jungle has a theatre called Good Chance Calais, which you can donate to here; it also has a library, but after being overwhelmed with book donations, it is requesting financial donations instead.

For more, see Help Refugees UK.

February 04, 2016
How Artists And Activists Are Using Creativity To Respond To The Refugee Crisis