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.