June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a UN and internationally recognized day to honor the strength and courage of refugees forced to flee their homes, communities and countries while creating awareness of their ongoing plight and fight for survival.

Elikya Connect is privileged to interact with the Syrian and Middle Eastern refugee community in San Diego in recent months. Working with another local organization that provides resources within this population, we’ve been honored to spend time with many of these refugees, hearing pieces of their stories, challenges, joys, aspirations and dreams.

Elikya Connect has recently helped provide photography, writing, etc. for the organization, and have been personally moved by their incredible work amidst this community. We were elated to  accompany them as they brought 20 teenage refugee girls to view an art exhibit and spend a day at Balboa Park. What a thrill to capture so many meaningful and joyful moments from this day and also personally connect with many of these girls and a few of their families.

As part of a larger ongoing “identity collage project” by the organization, we were also thrilled to create individual portraits of many of the girls and gift these portraits to them and their families. We were invited to attend the collage and portrait presentation ceremony in which the girls shared their stories behind their collages that they created. As the girls had painted and pasted images onto canvases reflecting items or themes they loved or valued, the girls also received framed portraits that Elikya Connect staff had taken. The director of the collage project wanted the portraits to express the culmination of the collage project, with the message to each of the girls that while their personal collage canvases were beautiful, they themselves were in fact, “the masterpiece.”

We are excited to continue collaborating with the organization as they do a massive work behind-the-scenes in our local refugee community. Part of their work specifically supports more vulnerable teenage girls and young women refugees, helping them find hope and healing, avenues for creative expression and practical skills and resources for navigating life in a new culture. We look forward to furthering our involvement within this community both locally and potentially internationally in coming months. Feel free to message us for more details! We’d love to share!

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