Born in Ihnken a small village in Daraa, Sami Farraj lived there with his parents and older brother until the spring of 2011 when Syrian Armed Forces entered their village. At 8 years old Sami and his older brother fled the violence to Jasem, a “safe zone” village further south where he lived until it too was targeted. The bomb that fell from the airplane overhead killed 2 of his young cousins and injured both of his legs. He was rushed to a field hospital set up in an abandoned school where, in what used to be a classroom, both of his legs were amputated.
In 2013 fleeing the return of Armed Forces, and seeking additional relief from the shooting pains in his residual limbs, Sami and his brother traveled to Jordan and the Zaatari camp. It was there that he encountered ADT and the Polus Center and began his rehabilitation. Sami underwent 2 additional surgeries, and began the physical and psychological therapy to prepare him for prosthesis. It was through the psychological trauma therapy program that Sami discovered his love of painting. He has produced many paintings since then. Some are dark depictions of the trauma he experienced, others reveal the strong connection to family, newfound love, and hope.
Sami says that working with the colors of the paints gave him the first feeling since his injury that his life was worth living. He continues to find joy in his painting. His dream is to become a lawyer, a painter, or a theater artist. He has performed in several theatrical productions in the Zaatari camp.
Eman grew up in Daraa with eleven sisters and five brothers. While on summer vacation in September of 2012, an airplane flying overhead dropped a bomb killing two of Eman’s sisters and badly injuring her leg. At eleven years old she was transported to an ad hoc clinic where they performed surgery on her leg to stop the bleeding. The first surgery, which amputated her foot below the ankle, was botched, as was the second surgery. By the third surgery her leg was amputated to just below her knee.
After the surgeries she returned to her home in Daraa. She stayed there for seven months, but the food and medicine was so scarce that she was forced to leave for Jordan with her sister. They arrived at the Zaatari camp in June 2013. Eventually a psychologist Eman was seeing at the Zaatari camp recommended that she go to ADT’s Al Bader Center. There she began her therapy.
Eman says that when she is producing art her stress goes away she is transported to a dream world where everything is happy. Painting her experiences in this state allows her to attain a better perspective on what has happened to her. She wants to use her art to spread the message about what is happening in Syria. Her dream is to become a famous artist with her paintings in galleries around the world. She sees this exhibition as her first big step towards that dream. Eman is 16.
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