September 24, 2018

An inspiring film from the Berlin Human Rights Film Festival about a strong Syrian mother determined to find a better life for her children, '8 Borders 8 Days' documents the journey of Sham and her two children, Eylan ("Lulu") and Yaman, from Damascus all the way to Berlin.

 (From left) Lulu, Sham and Yaman - image via 8 Borders 8 Days official website

Sham's flight story begins in Beirut, Lebanon, where Sham waits for 16 months in the hopes of being granted a Visa to go to the U.S. After receiving no response, and experiencing problems with her sponsor (a requirement for every refugee Lebanon post 2015), she escapes with her children to Istanbul.

Sham decides she must find a man to protect her and her children during the dangerous journey, so she meets Marwan, who shares the rest of the journey with them. Next comes the terrifying sea journey to the island of Lesbos, Greece. Neither Sham nor her children no how to swim.  The children describe the terrifying sea voya...

September 24, 2018

Tangun, Apay, Raja, Uta, Onia, Tetay, Telo, Telnay, Eda, Tahay, Iidam, Owo, Onokay, Yaday, Ueo, Lula, Pilu, Kilda, Bapa, Tanisha, Durayt, Tangatay, Takulu, Etalay, Ahay, Utchu, Telo, Tanisha and Pilo – these are just some of the names of people from the Jarawa tribe, pictured in Alexandre Dereim's important documentary, 'We Are Humanity.'

The Jarawa tribe are the "last descendants of the first modern humans". They left Africa 70,000 years ago and have been living in peaceful seclusion in the Adaman Islands off the coast of India ever since. The Jarawa are the last of the Afro-Asian peoples of the Adaman islands, and there are now only 420 left.

Words cannot describe the serenity of the Jarawa people – however, serenity does not imply simplicity! Many cruel myths portray tribes such as the Jarawa as simple, gormless savages. This damaging stereotype is instantly laid to rest on beholding the wisdom, skill and dexterity of the Jarawa. From carving delicate and perfectly balanced bows,...

September 19, 2018

World renowned Syrian artist, Tammam Azzam, is currently exhibiting works from his latest series, 'Storeys', at Galerie Kornfeld in  West Berlin. Last week, we went along to take a closer look...

Made famous by his seminal work 'Freedom Graffiti', in which he superimposed Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss' onto a bombed Syrian building, Tammam Azzam aims to 'draw attention to the tragedy of Syria'. 

 'Freedom Graffiti', Tammam Azzam - Image via The Independent

Having fled to Dubai in 2011 at the beginning of the uprisings, Tammam Azzam remains deeply tied to Syria, and heartbroken by the overwhelming destruction of his home country. Through his art, Azzam speaks out against the the brutal Assad and I.S. regimes, and the West's narrativization of the conflict: "How many gassed bodies of children do you need? Why is Syria a plaything? Why is it simply entertainment?"

As well as providing a critique on the Syrian conflict, Azzam wishes to connect through his art, sharing a message that...

September 14, 2018

In our latest artist interview, we speak with Beatrice Schachenmayr, photographer and founder of photography initiative, Frame Your Story,

We were introduced to Beatrice Schachenmayr a few months ago when she came to one of our Pass the Crayon meetups, and expressed her interest in helping us with some workshops. We got talking with her about her photography work, and it turns out we have a lot in common!

Beatrice had just finished a six month project at the Spandau refugee shelter, a project which saw her meet up with a group of young people every week and go out on excursions around Berlin, photographing their surroundings. Their work was being displayed in an exhibition at Café Refugio, so I went along to take a look. The photos captured Berlin from a multitude of angles, focusing on a diverse range of subject matter. I became interested in the young photographers who took these pictures, and I wanted to find out more from Beatrice about her experience in single-handedly cre...

September 10, 2018

A few weeks ago, we welcomed the film editor and producer, Kate O. Wagner, for a special film-making workshop series at the Weißensee shelter. 

In August, Pass the Crayon and the children living in the Weißensee shelter enjoyed a week-long film workshop series, led by movie-maker Kate Wagner. Kate had flown all the way from Washington DC to lead a pre-production workshop series for us. From character design, to script writing, to story boarding, around ten kids from eight to ten years had the opportunity to delve into their imagination and write some incredible stories. The children relished the opportunity to get behind the camera, and under Kate's guidance produced some wonderful videos.

For the Pass the Crayon team, it was such a delight to see how involved the youth became with the project. We were particularly pleased that some of the older ones - Saad, Zeed and Barham - preferred to spend five whole afternoons working on their story-line rather than p...

September 10, 2018

We only have ten days to go until the launch of this year's Berlin Human Rights Film Festival!🎥🕊️If you still haven't decided which screenings to attend, then here is a helpful list of migration focused movies you should definitely check out. 🔍 See you all there! 💖

8 Borders, 8 Days

 Sham, a fierce single mother of two from Syria, wants to provide her children with a safe life and future. When the situation in the country critically worsens, Sham applies for a resettlement to the US, which is denied. The only possibility she is left with is to flee Syria illegally, risking her children’s lives on an uncertain and dangerous odyssey to increasingly unwelcoming Europe.

For tickets, click here

8, Lenin Avenue

Moved by a desire of justice and truth, the two filmmakers Valérie Mitteaux und Anna Pitoun, follow Salcuta Filan and her Roma family for over fifteen years. After leaving her home country, Romania, the widow and single mother of two arrives in a little community in the subur...

September 8, 2018

In this week's PTC World News Roundup, we share sad news about the fate of the Khan al-Ahmar school; some worrying stats about childhood bullying; and the story of YAIM, the grassroots youth group in Gambia who are challenging preconceptions about migration.

From darkness to the light: Syrian families find peace in rural England

The story of a Syrian family, who were lucky enough to be selected for the UK "Vunerable person's resettlement scheme". They were relocated to the sleepy chocolate-box village of Hampton Bishop, Hereford, but rather than feel excluded from village life, the locals have embraced their new Syrian neighbours and vice versa. Let's hope that happy endings like these encourage the UK government to expand their program, and help more refugees find new homes! Read the full Guardian article here

Trump administration seeks to sidestep limits on child detention

Despite the US government's promises to end the separation of migrant children, yester...

August 14, 2018

In this week's World News Roundup, learn how one cent really CAN make a difference💰🕊️; what happened when Mahmoud visited the Dalai Lama 🕉️; and the heartbreaking story of young Iraqi boy, Othman.

Supported by safe spaces, Rohingya refugees show off their creativity on International Youth Day

On August 12th, children living in the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, celebrated International Youth Day. The children along with the local Bangladeshi community collaborated on an exhibition named, 'Safe Spaces for Youth'. The exhibition involved artwork and multiple creative activities, including a play on the theme of sexual harassment, which was performed by a group of young people for the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake!

Read the full UNFPA article here

12-year-old Tahera, pictured alongside her painting that shows a Safe Space for Youth. Image via UNFPA

UNICEF statement: Does anyone care? Cruelty against children continues.


August 7, 2018

When student, Katrina Cassel, flew ✈️all the way from America 🍔 to intern with Pass the Crayon 🖍️, we were amazed not just by the fact that a 17-year-old had the passion to spend their whole summer holiday volunteering halfway across the world 🤯, but by how much she contributed during her stay.

Katrina became heavily involved in organizing and delivering our weekly art workshops at the Weissensee and Pankow shelters. She also helped out at numerous other events, including the recent Weissensee Sommerfest and WelcomeCamp 2018. Katrina's positive energy, poise and maturity made her a hit with the PTC team, and most importantly, with the children at the shelters. Her fluency in German really came in handy when communicating with the kids, enabling her to forge close relationships in a short space of time. This aspect of volunteering was what Katrina valued the most - the chance to meet, to understand and build connections with these children.

With her impressive polit...

August 2, 2018

In this week's World News Roundup, discover the five simple steps that governments can take to improve the education system for refugee youth; learn the tragic reason why the Somalian government is finally saying 'NO' to FGM; and find out how a young Swedish student saved an asylum seeker from deportation. ✈️ + 📱 = ✊

"The prosecution of those involved in Deeqa’s [death] will send a strong message to the country. This is really a defining moment for Somalia.”

- Somalia deputy prime minister, Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid

Death of 10-year-old girl prompts first FGM prosecution in Somalia's history

Somalia has the highest rate of FGM in the world, with 98% of girls and women still undergoing the highly dangerous procedure. Young girls normally undergo FGM between the ages of five and nine, often being cut by untrained midwives using dirty glass, razors or knives. This leads to lifelong health problems, extreme pain and discomfort, risk of infection, and in extreme cases, death. 10-year...