Thursday, July 31, 2014

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Over the course of one's lifetime, the boundaries of one's home, work and social environments will shift based on the choices one makes personally and professionally. 
For a refugee, personal, professional and social boundaries are often out of their control. 
  • A refugee may not be able to decide on the country into which they flee.
  • Though a refugee may hold an advanced degree in their country of origin, they may not be able to pursue a career in that sector because of the language barrier
  • Upon arrival, the location of their new home is often determined by the refugee resettlement agency handling their case.
  • A refugee often experiences the loss of social networks, anxiety regarding the uncertainty of finding new connections and the fear of isolation in the new country.

How does BuildaBridge programming seek to combat these at-risk factors and build protective factors among incoming refugee populations?

By providing culturally specific art therapy and therapeutic art-making groups in the community context for homogeneous and mixed refugee population groups.  These programs help refugees identify adjustment strategies based on the strengths of their communities in promoting success, strength, recovery and resiliency in a new culture.

Since 2011, BuildaBridge has provided such art groups to over 170 refugees from four countries, assisting them through the arts in acculturating to their new environment and developing healthy boundaries for their personal and professional lives.

Since June 2014, BuildaBridge has served 61 new refugees participating in five different art groups.  BuildaBridge artists, through art-making experiences that focus on academic, social, artistic and character development skills, assist refugees in re-building and creating healthy boundaries in their new environment.

Summer attendance June 2014 to present:
Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience women and children’s group:  15
Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience mixed adults:  6
Congolese refugees:  8
Bhutanese refugee elders:  15
REAP (Refugee Employment and Advancement Program):  17

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Investing in Transformation

To invest:  to give or devote time, talent or finances for a purpose or to achieve something
To transform:  to change in condition, appearance or character

BuildaBridge's mission is to engage creative people and the transformative power of art making to bring hope and healing to children, families, and communities in the contexts of crisis and poverty. 

BuildaBridge envisions a world where all children are resilient, experience self-efficacy, and have a vision for their future. BuildaBridge dedicates its resources to building the capacity of creative adults and local communities to fulfill this vision.

For the second year in a row, The Sheila Fortune Foundation and the Union Benevolent Association have both invested in the transformation that has been occurring in the lives of the refugees BuildaBridge serves through the Refugee Project. Since April of 2013, the Refugee Project has served 110 refugees, 91 of whom were children.  Each child attending BuildaBridge groups learns key life lessons through art as metaphor, in addition to academic, artistic, social and character development skills.  Refugee children are also developing their identity in this new culture through art-making experiences that encourage:  1) the exploration of individual creative expression; 2) collaborative art-making, sharing of cultures and dialogue; 3) the child to love and accept themselves; 4) the affirmation of the culture from which they came and the future they envision for themselves; and 5) the ability to express themselves through art without the use of words.  Both the Bhutanese and Burmese refugee children's groups explored the life cycle of butterflies this year as a metaphor for transformation.  The caterpillar to the cocoon, chrysalis to the butterfly, and the flight of the of the most vivid and clear illustrations of transformation for children to understand and apply to their own lives.

BuildaBridge wishes to recognize and thank the following for investing in the transformation of the lives of the refugees we serve for a fourth year:

The Sheila Fortune Foundation - $3,500 grant
Union Benevolent Association - $2,000 grant