The Migrant Workers Task Force (MWTF) held an art workshop for its students on Sunday March 3rd in Alt City, Hamra in collaboration with the Bukhar Beirut Collective. The workshop consisted of a series of self-expression-oriented drawing activities, which aimed to help the students, migrant workers who work in various jobs throughout Lebanon, articulate their innermost feelings and aspirations.
The workshop was led by Lara Nasser, a Bukhar Beirut member. Nasser, who majored in art and minored in psychology at AUB, explained that “unconscious drawing exercises are a great way to tap into different areas of one’s brain, hence the series of one-minute-drawings we had the students do”. Nasser further said that she was greatly impressed by the exceptional drawings which students produced after this exercise, and as the workshop progressed, she even found her concerns about a possible language barrier between her and the students fading away – as the students became invested in the various exercises, the act of creating actually became its own language, making communication natural and easy.
One of the participants of the workshop, Adam Ahmed, made an inspiring and touching drawing for the self-portrait portion of the workshop. This exercise encouraged the students to draw themselves based on the way they see themselves and their aspirations for the future. Adam, a Sudanese migrant worker who has been in Lebanon for 5 years, made a drawing of himself sitting in an office. The top of the drawing read “It’s my office”. Adam explained that this exercise was especially personal for him, as it allowed him to portray his ambitions in a way he could never articulate in words, since “some things can only be drawn, not spoken”. Adam surprised himself as well as the workshop organizers with his talent and said that this workshop reminded him of when he used to draw as a child and made him consider continuing this activity in his spare time.
Mohamed Hodeib, executive director of the Bukhar Beirut Collective, stated that the Collective’s vision for the workshop was mainly to offer the migrant workers an outlet to express themselves through art. Hodeib believes that art, like meditation, should serve to help one overcome the limitations of the mind. It is for this reason that he envisioned the workshop as an opportunity for the students to be whatever they want to be, even if only in their drawings. In addition, he said, this workshop may be the first of many to come. This type of long-term involvement is important to the Collective because of its extensive experience collaborating with different NGOs on various social causes, which leads them to view events like this one as valuable learning experiences for their activist-teachers as well.
Following the workshop, MWTF and Bukhar Beirut will collaborate further on a joint fundraising project. First up in this collaboration is a concert titled “ROCK FOR MIGRANT RIGHTS”, which is to take place on Saturday, March 9th in Tar Marbouta restaurant, Hamra. More details are available on the official Facebook event page.