We wish that this was only a metaphor: thousands of refugees living in former prisons. Sadly, it is the harsh reality. With nowhere else to go, disenfranchised and dispossessed, many of the IDPs and refugees have been housed by the authorities in grim former Saddam Hussein-era prisons.
However, flowers are starting to bloom on the concrete. Doves are flying around sentinel towers and pastoral scenes unrolling along perimeter walls. Armed only with brushes and paint, Lucy and the Rise Foundation have been working with the children of the Akre Castle camp to transform their surroundings by designing and painting murals.
The children get to paint their hopes and their memories, adding decoration and delight to walls and spaces that they can now claim as their own. They have designed messages of hope, peace and reconciliation which they paint over the dark concrete of the former prison. They are adding colour to each others' houses: as they move around the camp, they get requests from the people living in each block for what they would like to have painted on the outsides of their temporary accommodation. From a repressive monochrome, the camp is now filling with splashes of brightness, perspective, delight. The effect is both startling and moving.
We were immensely impressed to hear from Lucy about what she was doing and and are inspired by this project. You can see some of the images the children have created here.