Young refugees paint images of hopes and dreams

01:15, May 30 2012
ILLUSTRATING LIFE: A group of young Burmese refugees in Thailand work on their art.

Violence, heartbreak and hope for the future go hand in hand at an exhibition opening in Nelson this weekend.

Hope for the Child of War at Nelson's Christ Church Cathedral features paintings by young Burmese refugees living in Thailand.

New Zealand organisation Partners Relief and Development went to Northern Thailand in 2010 to help run art therapy workshops for 150 primary school and high school pupils.

The children were from a school in a Shan displaced people's camp on the Thailand-Burma border.

They were given paper and acrylic paint and asked to illustrate their lives in Burma.

They were also invited to draw pictures showing their dreams and hopes for the future.


The works form a snapshot of the war-torn region and the effects it had on the children.

Many of the artworks are militaristic in nature, showing violence and heartbreak.

Some children live with their families in the camps and others have had their families torn apart.

About 20 of the children were asked to share their stories with Partners staff through translators.

The paintings and stories have been framed and will appear alongside photographs of the artists at the cathedral.

Nelson exhibition co-ordinator Ian Faulkner said the exhibition, which was wending its way around the country, aimed to create awareness and foster support for the displaced people of Burma.

Partners Relief and Development was registered as a New Zealand charity in 2008 and responds with relief and development projects, care for children and advocacy.

A Hope for the Child of War, Nelson cathedral, opens 2pm Saturday, runs until June 17.