Charity in Lebanon to provide emotional support

While most charities go overseas to help in post-disaster relief efforts, such as distributing water or rebuilding homes, a Singapore charity is in a conflict zone to offer emotional support to refugees.

A team of seven art therapists and three volunteers from The Red Pencil arrived in Lebanon yesterday, and their humanitarian mission begins tomorrow. They are in Lebanon, which is bordered by Syria to the north and east, for a 15-day trip to conduct art therapy workshops for over 300 people, mostly children and teenagers, in a Syrian refugee camp.

In art therapy, people are encouraged to express their emotions through drawings, as a way of "relief, release, empowerment and, ultimately, healing", said Mrs Laurence Vandenborre, founder of the Singapore-based charity.

She told The Sunday Times: "Natural disasters and conflict zones are part of the overwhelming life circumstances that, unfortunately, some people have to go through - sometimes to the point that they cannot talk about it any more, especially so for children.

"The creative process behind drawing or painting allows them to express what they cannot say in words."

Founded in 2011, The Red Pencil offers art therapy services at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, as well as schools and welfare groups. It has also made about 20 humanitarian trips, including one to Nepal after it was hit by a major earthquake in April. The Lebanon trip is its first to a conflict zone.

As part of safety measures, an evacuation plan has been drawn up, the art therapists' respective embassies have been informed and the charity's partner has links with government-level authorities, said Mrs Vandenborre. She will join the team, which includes four Singapore citizens and permanent residents, on Tuesday.

Priscilla Goy

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015, with the headline 'Charity in Lebanon to provide emotional support'. Print Edition | Subscribe