Hopeful Thoughts

In the next stage of the workshop, our team and camp educators invited the children to move beyond the images of painful memories. To do so, we encouraged them to draw inspiring images of what happiness and hope means to them. 


Traditional blackboard wisdom 

Electrifying Intensity

It’s very difficult to find time to reflect or to find a release from traumatic experiences when food, water, and safety are your daily concerns.

Electrifying intensity occurred when the kids were able to release these painful memories through the activity of drawing. The children were transformed as they began to smile, became more engaged, and their eyes opened wider. 


Thousands of Malians fled their homes to seek refuge in Burkina Faso from the uprising extremism in the surrounding nations.

In 2012, two refugee camps were established in Northern Burkina Faso to house the thousands of displaced Malians. Today, the camps are managed by IEDA Relief and UNHCR in partnership with the government of Burkina Faso.

Acknowledging the magnitude of the refugee crisis, the “Be The Peace Be The Hope” program invited Houston students from twelve schools (CyFair ISD, HISD, Baker-Ripley Charter School, Post Oak School), four community centers, (Agape Development, India House, Taiwanese Heritage Society Houston, YMCA), and twenty Harris County Public Libraries to respond by creating over 600 powerful paintings depicting messages of Hope and Love for the children in refugee camps.

In October of 2016, our international team of twelve committed educators, art therapists, facilitators, and videographers implemented the “Be The Peace-Be The Hope” Educational and Healing Arts Program for ten days in two refugee camps in Burkina Faso: Mentao and Goudebou (30,600 total refugees). We trained 20 permanent camp educators who assisted in the implementation and continuation of the program here.

Realities of War Through the Eyes of a Child

When asked to draw something they feared, most of the refugee children drew scenes of war that they lived through.

One of the first stages of the Be the Peace – Be the Hope healing process was to create a safe place for the children to express painful memories they may have repressed. This may have been the first time any of them had a chance to externalize these memories. 

Life in Goudebou, Refugee Camp, Burkina Faso

17,600 Malian refugees live in Goudebou, located near Dori in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso bordering the northeastern countries of Nigeria and Mali.

Half of the refugees speak French, and the other half speak Tamasheq, the native dialect of the semi-nomadic Islamic African tribe called the Tuaregs, or “Free men.” 

A Protected Path of Love and Hope

The day we left, the kids were invited to walk through a path protected by the elders, the teachers and the Be the Peace – Be the Hope team to acknowledge their participation, experiences, and to offer hope for their future.

This is Home for Now

Typical home tents in the refugee camp in the sprawling Sahel desert 

Deep in Thought

By transitioning from drawings of painful memories to hopeful thoughts, the process gave the children space to express their emotions in a safe way, and recognize their own potential for positive outlets. 

Goodbye Ceremony Circle

On the last day of our camp program, we joined the children in a large circle of Hope. In the middle of the circle, our team and the camp’s teachers sung out to them the song that we created together called “You are the Hope.”

The song was written in collaboration with the teachers at a weekend training session in Ouagadougou before we visited the camps. 

The Tree of Hope

Designing the Tree of Hope that illustrates the roots as our past acquired references through family, school and community, the trunk as who we are, our qualities and values, and the branches as what we will bring into the world. 

Sewing Hope

Camp Youth combining their art with the artwork created and sent by Houston’s Youth.