I have been back in London for 10 days, the same length of time I spent in Iraq. 10 days to process what I saw and heard, and 10 days to draw parallels between our lives and theirs. 10 days of connecting with people despite not speaking the same language, followed by 10 days of wondering why in a city of 9 million people, we are all so disconnected.
We live in a society where human connection can disappear as easily as not replying to a text or swiping your finger across a screen in the wrong direction. Technology, advertising, news and politics are all focused on making the divides bigger and pushing us to think we are not the same, when, deep down, we all know that we are.
During my trip, I met people that have experienced the most harrowing suffering, and returned to conversations of whose dating who, where to buy the best coffee and the anger a delayed train can cause. It would be the easy option to feel disillusioned, but we are all products of our environment. This is how our society is designed to make us behave.
Those 10 days with a community of people that have suffered more than I can imagine, have kept me hopeful. To sit with people that have been sold as slaves and see them still able to smile gives me hope. To laugh and joke with children that were trained as soldiers gives me hope. To actually connect with human beings without relying on a phone or an app gives me hope. No matter how hard circumstances become, it seems that human connection will always win.
I have cried more in 10 days than I have all year and felt more lost with the state of our society than ever before, but also felt more hopeful than ever before that human connection will always shine through.
It has been a profound experience to see The Lotus Flower's work in Kurdistan. I had previously read stories, and been told about their work, but to see the projects first hand added a level of importance and integrity that words are unable to provide. It filled me with an immense sense of pride to know that a portion of the money we raised through our Multicolour project was being used by Taban and her team to help this community of displaced people rebuild themselves.
Earlier in 2019, we hosted an exhibition of artworks from many of the world's most important artists, and sold them at auction raising a total of £121,000. We then granted £25,250 of this to The Lotus Flower to support their work in Kurdistan, and it has been incredibly rewarding to see it being used in such a powerful way.
After seeing their work, I’m keen to continue supporting the art classes at the Lotus Flower centres, please do support me in this cause by donating here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/ArtMaterialsFund