The teenager Noman from Afghanistan discovered his artistic talent in Bihać
"My first drawing was Sponge Bob. I was happy that day and I saw a picture of him being happy. So I said to myself: I should try to copy this"
Fifteen-year-old Noman is a refugee from Afghanistan. For more than three years, he has been traveling with his family in an attempt to reach the Netherlands, where his father lives. They crossed Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, and they reached Bihać, where they currently reside, and where Noman goes to school. He spends his free time in the Child Friendly Space at the Sedra Reception Centre near Bihać. That is where Noman's exceptional talent for painting was discovered.
"My first drawing was Sponge Bob. I was happy that day and I saw a picture of him being happy. So I said to myself: I should try to copy this", he told us.
After that, he began to paint intensively, and it gave his life a new meaning. As he explained, nobody taught him how to draw, and he is not familiar with any artists. He is motivated by an idea he wants to transform into a visual representation. Noman says that painting reflected his emotions. He is aware of the dire situation he is in, but he is also aware you do not need much to be happy.
"Future... at time like this I cannot think about future because I am in a bad situation. When I’m happy I can pain, but when I’m sad, it doesn’t come out very well. Yesterday, I was happy. I was at school, and my fellow students treated me nice. We played basketball, soccer, volleyball, we were all happy... laughing and making jokes. When I got back to the Space, I made a canvas painting of an eye", he shows it to us.
Besides painting, he also likes to lift his mood by playing guitar.
Noman is one of a dozen of teenager migrants and refugees that have been provided with safe and encouraging environment at the Child Friendly Space of the Sedra Reception Centre, where they learn, engage in creative work, spend their free time, and take a chance on optimism.
With the support from UNICEF, and the partner organisations Save the Children and Žene s Une, children aged 12 to 17 can spend their time here learning, developing their talents and skills, hanging out with their peers, and access support to help them overcome traumas they have faced on their journeys from their homelands to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Child Friendly Space was established as a part of the project titled EU Support to Migration and Border Management in Bosnia and Herzegovina funded by the European Union with more than 7.2 million euros. The project is implemented by the International Organisation for Migration, UNHCR, and UNICEF as partner organisations.