Inspired by our visits to Neuschwanstein Castle in an amazingly gorgeous village in Bavaria Germany, our next Lily4Refugees Ambassadors name is Ludwig. This inspiring story is out now and available in download stores!
July 29, 2021
July 27, 2021
Meet my Lily4Refugees Ambassador Laila!
July 25, 2021
Kayra Martinez, the founder of LWB4Refugees has been working in the refugee camp of Nea Kavala, in northern Greece, near the Macedonian border, since 2016. Since then she has fed and cared for stray cats and dogs that were malnourished and neglected. Kayra and helpers ensured that the animals received the necessary medical care. Kayra started to refer the strays to their new homes in Germany, Canada, and Norway with the support of some organizations and helpers.
Kayra and Bruni collect donations for the flight costs, care, and food for the dogs of Nea Kavala in order to bring them to their future homes across the globe. 100% of all donations are used for these costs to bring the dogs to their new homes and to support the animals in Northern Greece.
If you like to support Keyra and the forgotten animals on the streets of Greece, visit this link!
Pictures of happy dogs in their happy new home!
July 23, 2021
Creativity means being inventive and I had the chance to speak to this creative and inspiring Lady about her love and support for refugees.
In 2015, Kayra Martinez, the founder of "Love without Borders 4 Refugees", a flight attendant for United Airlines based in Frankfurt, Germany, heard about the horrible conditions in which asylum seekers were made to live in.
Kayra was inspired to leverage her privileged lifestyle to make a difference and started organizing collections of needed items like coats and warm clothing in her Frankfurt community, and later decided to volunteer in the refugee camps and housing communities in the north of Greece.
It was at the Nea Kavala camp that Kayra had the brilliant idea to give the children art supplies so that they could draw and paint. From the first session, Kayra noticed how the creative process seemed to calm the kids, so she began regular art workshops for the children in the tents in the camp. She shared what she was doing with her friends through social media when someone suggested to her that she sell the paintings. Over time, parents joined their children, and Kayra expanded the program to include adults who were interested. She began selling the pieces on behalf of the artists, returning all of the earnings to the individuals that created each piece sold.
Love Without Borders for Refugees seeks to support refugees in Greece regain stability and autonomy over their lives. Using art for self-expression and as a tool for economic independence is like therapy. The refugees have a platform through which they express themselves, share their experiences, and forge relationships with both a local and global community.
“In a process of self-empowerment these soulful individuals heal the trauma of recent years through the self-reflection, self-expression, and storytelling power of the creative process.” Kayra Martinez
Kayras main operation consists of facilitating art workshops and the sale of refugee-created art. With the donations of generous individuals around the world, she purchases art supplies from local, Greek vendors such as canvases, watercolors, pencils, markers, calligraphy paper, and sketchpads to adults and children in the refugee camps.
Kayras volunteers host workshops in their homes and the tents of the artists in the camps. With the help of volunteers she met in Greece, she is also hosting exhibitions of refugee art across the United States, and around the world. The creations are then transported by volunteers to cities around the world where they organize exhibitions and sell the art. One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of each piece of art is returned to the artist. Many of the pieces sold are from children as young as 3.
With her non-profit-organization, registered and operated in the United States, Kayra is educating the public about the struggles refugees face; to humanize the refugee experience; and to generate compassion and empathy for all people in this world. She spread awareness of the conditions faced by refugees and the continued state of the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East.
In addition to her art program, her volunteers coordinate other aid programs including the distribution of material and financial aid to meet the immediate and unmet needs of these and other displaced individuals. These include providing sleeping bags, tents, and temporary quarters for those refugees with housing insecurity; providing unspoiled food for those without, and locating missing persons.
If you live in the United States and like to support “Love Without Borders 4 Refugees”, please visit the LWBRefugeeArt Etsy shop.
July 21, 2021
I hope you had the time to watch the documentary “Dance or Die” and all the other great videos (dance performances and interviews) that I shared about Ahmad Joudeh’s life journey in my previous two blog posts (Part 1) and (Part 2).
If you have seen what I saw, you definitely agree that this beautiful soul is one of a kind. Ahmad Joudeh’s life story is not a Hollywood Fiction film. It is the reality of a young and innocent boy born in a refugee camp and living stateless for decades in Syria.
A little boy with a big dream made it from a refugee camp and a war zone to the international stage of the Eurovision Song Contest! From a stateless refugee boy to a proud Dutch. With his strong belief, passion, devotion, discipline, and love for dance, he made the impossible possible! Ahmad Joudeh is a global star and inspiration for everyone!
According to UNHCR in the previous three years, one million children were born as Refugees. Many of these babies are born in refugee camps across the globe and the world is witnessing this cruel, heartbreaking and inhuman condition for decades.
When COVID-19 changed the world in 2020, my first thought and prayers were with the refugees stuck in the horrible refugee camps. I asked myself what happens to them now. Who is going to take care of their misery?
At the same time, I was annoyed by peoples ongoing whining around me. All of a sudden, people were worried about their children’s education and future. Unemployment, no income, insecurity, fear, anxiety, depression, and mental illness became the new normality for everyone. And I mean every single human being, regardless of birthplace, nationality, passport, skin colour, gender, and religion. Everyone is in the same challenging and difficult situation!
And my reaction was: "Good, now everyone knows how millions of innocent victims of war and refugees suffer for ages. Now they know how it feels like to be helpless and powerless about your own life decisions and choices. Now they know how it is to live day by day, night by night, worrying and not knowing what the next day will bring. Now they see how unhealthy the lack of perspective and uncertainty feels. Now they know how loneliness and social isolation troubles the mind, heart, and soul. Stop complaining about the Lockdowns. At least you have a warm and safe home with a roof over your head. What about the refugees serving in tents with no privacy and only limited access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment, and freedom of movement? Your worries and uncertainties are food, alcohol, and toilet paper. The refugees are struggling with hunger and the most inhuman, unhygienic, and unsanitary conditions for years."
Maybe now after 1,5 years living with a global pandemic, a few people will have a better understanding, compassion, and empathy with refugees!
Watch my One-hour Zoom interview with this incredibly strong, confident, talented, amazingly beautiful soul. Ahmad Joudeh is not only a refugee camp survivor, war survivor, dancer, and choreograph, he is now a published writer with a mission! He has my full respect, admiration, and love and I wish him all the happiness and success in the world!
Ahmad Joudeh's honest, eye-opening, educational, and inspiring memoir “Dance or Die” is a reminder for everyone out there who lives a privileged life in every imaginable aspect but doesn't appreciate it in every possible way! Stop making excuses and do something meaningful with your life!
July 18, 2021
Creativity allows us to view and solve problems. It opens our minds. Especially in difficult and lonely time’s creativity is the best self-therapy and healing solution for our heart, mind, and soul. Creativity is the ability to generate, create, or discover new ideas, solutions, and possibilities. During this horrible global pandemic crisis, everyone was challenged in one or another way, which gave me the idea to feature a few creative guests in my summer blog series Corona & Creativity.
My next guest in my blog series 2021 is the lovely and talented American Author C.L. Schneider. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley. Her debut novel was The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price, the first book in her epic fantasy trilogy. The Crown of Stones is a gripping account of one man's struggle to accept who and what he is. It's the journey of a flawed hero, a fallen race, and a land at war. A page-turning tale of prejudice, betrayal, secrets, and lies.
Her new series, Nite Fire, is a gritty, action-packed, urban fantasy featuring shapeshifters, dragons, parallel worlds, and various creatures of myth and legend.
Welcome back Cynthia! You've been featured in my blog series back in 2017. So tell me what means creativity to you?
Creativity is the act of making something from nothing, of giving life to your dreams. It’s the unlimited expression of thought and emotion.
What is your favorite creative activity? Writing.
What is your favorite color? Red
Did you discover a creative activity or new
passion during the corona Lockdown?
Unfortunately, no. My creativity took a hit during lockdown, at least the first half. I’m the kind of person who is deeply affected by the emotions of others. There was so much pain in the world, so much loss and anger. It was hard for me to focus on channeling my own emotions into writing when the whole world was hurting. I didn’t stop writing, though. I did what I could, when I could, and eventually I pushed through it.
Do you think creative people are happier in general?
The act of creating, of letting your imagination go free, is a huge mood booster. It’s also therapeutic. I believe creative people who are free to follow their passion, without it being stifled, can glean happiness from living a truly creative life.
Would you say creativity is kind of a self-therapy?
Absolutely. It allows you to express what you’re feeling in a medium without restriction or (in that moment) judgement.
Would you say that creative people are more driven and disciplined?
I think creative people are definitely driven. Once a project gets in your head, it can be all-consuming. Hours pass and you don’t even realize it. Disciplined…? That’s a little tricker. When a creative person’s focus is locked on bringing something to life, some days nothing will pull them away. Other days, we look for every little distraction to do anything but create.
The meaning of “Creativity” is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness! Creativity is going beyond the usual, stepping outside of the box. It can be defined in many ways, such as how a person explores ideas or uses different ways to solve issues and how one experiences life. So what was your original idea or what did you create during lockdown? You can list more than one.
I managed to write and publish the first novella in a new series. It was something that had been kicking around in my head for years but kept getting pushed to the back burner. Though it takes place in the same world as another one of my series, in some respects it’s different than anything I’ve written before. It felt great to finally devote time to the idea and bring it to life. I also tinkered with some short stories. I’m not sure if I will finish/publish them or not. I’m not a short story person. I generally find them harder than a novel where I can take time to build the world and develop the characters. But when everything was in turmoil, for some reason, I found myself gravitating to the shorter creative works as an outlet.
While you may have natural creativity skills, there are also skills that can be learned and developed over time. Would you say your creative skills are natural or trained?
I think my writing skills are both. I had an early and natural talent for writing, but through years of research, reading, and crafting stories, I’ve honed my skills to what they are today. But the learning, the training never stops. Every book I write teaches me something new.
A new study from researchers has found that women are engaged in creative fields like art, music, and literature at higher rates than men and are generally more creative than men. What is your thought on that?
I know a lot of men who are creative and highly passionate about their art. But art comes from emotion and women (as a whole) tend to be more in touch with their emotions. We generally feel them more intensely and are quicker to share them. So, from that perspective, perhaps we are quicker to channel them into art?
Do you think being creative and productive is also related to season? For example are you more creative in the summer or in winter?
I’m not sure. All I can say is, personally, summer is harder for me simply because there are more distractions.
Thank you Cynthia for being my blog guest again and best of luck with all your creative activities and projects. If you like to know more about C.L. Schneider, follow her on Social media or visit her website!
July 17, 2021
One of the best inventions of all time in the creative field has been the photo camera. The very first was designed in 1685 by Johann Zahn. But the first photograph was clicked by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in the year 1814. It was thousands of years back that an Iraqi scientist Ibn- al- Haytham made a mention of this kind of device in his book, Book of Optics in 1021. And what we know today as the digital camera was invented by Steven Sasson camera at Eastman Kodak in 1975.
Capturing moments and freezing emotional and important life events forever in pictures is truly a blessing. But in my personal opinion and experience is pictures are not reliable sources. They are often nothing but a big and fat lie!
“Cheese!” That’s what many people say when they take a picture. According to my research Davies, an American lawyer and diplomat who served under Roosevelt suggested this during a photoshoot on the set of the film adaptation of his book Mission to Moscow in 1943. While having his picture taken, he said the formula to taking a good picture was saying "Cheese" as it creates an automatic smile. He also said: "I learned that from a politician, a very great politician. But, of course, I cannot tell you who he was." One theory is that former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt came up with the phrase!
Looking back at these pictures below taken between 1996 – 2004 proves my point. These were the toughest years in our life and yet I smile! I smile next to strangers that I met only once or twice in my entire life. When you take a picture with a celebrity it only takes a second. They don’t know you. They don’t know your story. You on the other hand believe to know them, because of their creative work, be it in the music or TV field.
But in reality, you don’t know anything about these people. And yet in the pictures, we look so tight and familiar! Some of them were more than two-minute acquaintances. I actually worked with a few of them and they became chapters rather than a single sentence in my life story. And yet today I would say they were all just passengers in my life story. So what I’m trying to say is: Creativity can also fool you. Be aware, that not everything that you see or believe to see is the reality!
In the late 90es and early 2000, there was no Social media. There was no Instagram generation with influencers. We took pictures just for us to capture a little moment of happiness. Because meeting creative and successful people (celebrities) is always exciting and inspiring. But trust me looking back at these pictures and knowing what I was going through; I realize that the other person was surely having his or her own difficulties and challenges as well.
In difficult times in life, we have no other choice than to keep smiling, keep shining, keep breathing, keep functioning, keep pretending, keep fighting and finally keep surviving! That’s the reality of life and not the shiny and glossy pictures that we see.
STAY TUNED FOR MY ZOOM INTERVIEW WITH MY SPECIAL BLOG GUEST
DANCER AND WRITER AHMAD JOUDEH ON JULY 21TH 2021!