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Unity Through Creativity Blog

Light in the Dark Night

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

The Anguish of War - The Work of Hope

Every night I wake up and think of the people being bombed in Ukraine as the world watches. I think of Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and Sudan - other places where people are being bombed as the world watches. I am in anguish over this needless suffering. How are you doing, my friend?

I turn to art in these difficult times. The creative expression of feelings brings relief. I invite you to join me and contribute to the 102nd Singing Tree mural, The Ukrainian Singing Tree of Strength and Freedom. We hope to bring love to those who are suffering in Ukraine, including the African students who are having a hard time leaving. The project will raise funds for the International Rescue Committee’s work with Ukrainian refugees. Below you'll find the study for the mural which uses the Ukrainian flag for its background and honors Ukraine's national tree which is a viburnum. The roots are holding the heart of the world. The national bird – the nightingale - is singing and calling out, and the map of Ukraine on the earth is surrounded by blood and prayer dots.

Instructions and templates for leaves and birds are here.

Progress on The Cyprus Singing Tree of Peace

The mural has begun, after two years of planning with our amazing partner in Cyprus, Visual Voices. Below is the study that grew out of the genius of 8 artists working together, four from the North and four from the South of Cyprus. It was not an easy process. They worked through differences and came up with a rich, unique image. Photographer Giorgos Stylianou took the bottom two photos, one using a drone. He will be documenting the project.

To witness such beauty and collaboration between opposite members of a divided nation in this time of seeing bombed out, flatten cities and families having to flee for their lives gives me strength. I hope it gives you strength, too.

The Cyprus Singing Tree of Peace is Unity Through Creativity's first 5 x 5 Project: 5 Singing Tree Murals in 5 countries for 5 years. The countries are Cyprus, Uganda, England, Peru and the United States.

The Kyangwali Singing Tree of Healing the Trauma of War

Our project in Uganda has taken on new meaning as we witness 2 million people becoming refugees in 12 days. The question of whether our species can handle mass migration with compassion, grace and focused resources is a challenge of the 21st century. Climate chaos has been estimated to dislodge 120 million people in the next decades. This number doesn't include migration caused by people fleeing violence and poverty.

The Kyangwali Refugee camp is all too familiar with leaving one's homeland because of war. 95% of the refugees who live in the UN's settlement in northern Uganda have come from the Congo. The trauma of war has stayed with them for decades and the need for healing is intense. The Singing Tree process is a collective way for feelings to be expressed and stories to be shared - a necessary step in healing.

Kanizius Nsabimana, the Lead Organizer, came up with the theme for the Singing Tree of Healing the Trauma of War. He fled the Congo to the refugee camp when he was seven in 1996. As a visionary educator, he founded Youth Challenge 4 Change which supports entrepreneurial projects by high school students and teaches Peace Building Through Sport.

World-renown Lead Artist, Emma Kavuma, lives in Kampala, 6 hours away from the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. He follows in his artist father's footsteps, even though he lost him and his mother as a young child. His father used charcoal as his main medium. 4 year-old Emma picked up charcoal from the fireplace when his parents died and started drawing. He hasn't stopped. Sharing the principle that creativity is a birthright, Emma brought art-making to Syrian refugees in the Netherlands. We are thrilled to have both Emma and Kanizius join our team of Singing Tree Facilitators.

The Kyangwali Singing Tree is the 2nd 5 x5 Project. The $20,000 project still has $9000 to go before we can launch. We're going to be embarking on a creative fundraising campaign soon. Please stay tuned!

And lastly, we celebrate with you. May all women be cherished and safe. May all men be cherished and safe. May all children be cherished and safe.

Humbly and with love,


P.S. The eagle in the moon at the head of the newsletter was drawn by Lidia Lopez, Singing Tree Facilitator and Community Matters Bully Prevention Trainer, in honor of her father who died last year.


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