A Day of Art and Joy for Refugee Children in New York




On Wednesday, August 31, the United Nations Association of New York partnered with several organizations to host a group of recently resettled refugee children and their parents at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Originally from Syria and Eritrea, the families that participated in the day are now resettled in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Museum president, Dr. Daniel Weiss, welcomed the group and reflected on the museum's collection spanning 5,000 years of art and honoring worldwide cultures and civilizations. The children made art in the Islamic art galleries where they pressed clay against ancient Assyrian bas-relief walls to capture textures. Seven bilingual professionals from various fields took a day off from work to volunteer as translators. Visits were made to the Temple of Dendur, in the ancient Egyptian collection and to contemporary events like the Met Fashion Institute's wildly popular Manus x Machinas exhibit.

Over 60 million people have fled their homes and risked their lives in search of refuge. Most are children. The United Nations Association of New York (UNA-NY) is helping to mobilize New Yorkers for humanitarian action and is involved in the Refugees Back to School initiative campaign that was started by our national organization, UNA-USA. The campaign involves many UNA-USA chapters throughout the United States to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.

After the art program at the museum all the children were given a backpack filled with school supplies to ensure that they start school with both the tools they need to succeed and with a message of warmth, welcome and inclusion from their new hometown.

We are grateful for the donation of the backpacks by Yoobi, a kids stationery and school supply company with a social mission. And we are grateful for the partnership with the many sponsors of the day, Kim Tamalonis, Hadi Hajjar, Pace Prints, the Rye ArtsCenter, J&R Tours, Mimi Melkonian, Sherry Tamalonis, and the James Family — as well as the many officers and educators of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who collaborated with us to make this extraordinary day possible.

The day of art for refugee children turned into a day of joy for all. It was an extraordinary show of solidarity, humanitarian values, love and support by all collaborators.