Syrian refugee in Windsor uses art to cope with terrors of war

Syrian refugee in Windsor uses art to cope with terrors of war

Raida Farzat uses her artwork to help her cope with the horrors she and her family experienced before escaping war-torn Syria.

The soft-spoken 13-year-old vividly remembers hearing bomb blasts. She was particularly traumatized when she saw pictures how people tore apart their family home in the small city of Homs, located in western Syria.

"Everything was destroyed, I remember my toys were all scattered on the floor and dirty and even pictures were burned," Farzat said.

Her family arrived in Windsor in November 2014 as refugees. While her parents say Farzat suffered from depression, they say they've noticed an improvement recently and credit her artwork.

"I'm not really good with speaking so drawing is my way of expressing myself," Farzat explains. "It's my hobby and I really like it. I really like drawing my feelings."

One of her paintings shows a young girl with bombs, fire and images of war behind her. 

"When I was drawing this I was thinking of any refugee who is escaping from war. The maple leaf represents how they came to Canada and to safety," said Farzat. 

'Very creative'

That's not an uncommon coping mechanism, according to a clinical psychologist.

"It's sounds like a very creative and very healthy way for this young girl to express herself, " says Dr. Ben Kuo, who is beginning a five-year national study on the physical and mental health of Syrian refugees. 

"I think what is difficult for refugees, regardless of the age, when they are fleeing from their hometowns there's really not a lot of time to really make sense of what happened to them."

Farzat also likes helping others. She's donated five drawings to the Diocese of London so they could sell them and use the money to help other refugee children in need. Claire Roque says the money was used to buy toys to keep children occupied while their parents go through their refugee hearings.