WHAT WE DO
We work in partnership with communities hurt by inequalities and the violence of war,
honoring their lived experiences and knowledge to realize their collective vision of a better future.
Our curriculum of creative activities builds social and emotional health and mitigates trauma for youth. We use both group and individual activities, including painting, dance, drawing, music, photography, and theater. Activities are low-cost, draw from resources and knowledge of the local context, and are focused on transferable skillsets and competencies leading to a more sustainable approach for low-resource environments. The creative nature of the activities enables participants to focus on developing their capabilities and assets, thus mitigating the stigma associated with traditional mental health solutions.
For girls facing everyday aggression and traumatic events of gender-based discrimination and violence, these creative activities provide opportunities for holistic healing, relationship building, and identity expression outside of harmful gender norms.
Our public art-making model builds social cohesion and resilience. Adaptable to a range of settings, our model has been implemented in refugee camps, and post-war urban environments in Sub-Saharan Africa. We bring together community leadership council to engage in a series of discussions around critical issues and potential solutions. Based on these discussions, youth design and produce murals and posters in lively public spaces in their community Through large-scale collaborative public art, marginalized adolescents have a platform to engage with their community leaders and represent the issues and values that are important to them. While creating murals and posters, participants exercise and strengthen the skills they have learned during the program including leadership, and creative expression. The artwork expresses what the community desires to promote in society as opposed to what they desire to prevent. This approach promotes local strength, resilience, leadership, and assets-focused thinking.
In our work with girls, the public art created generates new perspectives on girls and women that shows their capabilities and identity beyond vulnerability and victimhood. This challenges perceptions and harmful social norms that contribute to gender-based violence.
We work with local partners, mentors and community leaders to build local capacity and ownership and increase the sustainability of our work. Program activities are led by a locally based partner organization and mentors recruited from the same community. With this model, participants can become future mentors, and mentor future staff. Our work is co-led and informed by the lived experiences of the people within the community.
We provide participants with scholarships for school tuition and associated school fees. Education supports youth development and increases lifetime earnings. For girls in particular, secondary education supports lower rates of child marriage, child mortality, and maternal mortality and increased lifetime earnings and national growth rates.
9 projects located in refugee camps and post-war areas in Sub-Saharan Africa
directly benefiting 340 young people
and reaching an estimated 215,000 residents through a public mural-making process
MEET YOUTH ARTIVISTS
Colors of Connection’s projects are designed to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the youth we work with, instilling inner resources and knowledge that they can carry with them and build on through their life’s journey. The strength and resilience of these youth inspire us on a daily basis.
WE’RE COMMITTED TO PLAYING OUR PART
Through our unique arts-based approach Colors of Connection is filling a gap in services provided by the international aid and development sector for conflict-affected individuals and communities. We align our activities with the larger guiding framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and seek to add value to the sectors in which we work. As an organization that works specifically in low-income conflict-affected countries, we aim to play our role in helping achieve the United Nations SDG 2030 agenda.
Your gift provides a community with an opportunity for their collective voice to be heard.