Sketch A Peace - Sherif Hajjaj
Sherif, a young artist from Egypt, is passionate about making art accessible to children regardless of their social or economic standing. He noticed that while most projects and organizations that aim to teach art to children focus on rural and underprivileged areas, while the children of those who work for residents of affluent urban centers are left out. Art programs in such neighborhoods are focused on profits, making participation a luxury only those with economic privilege could afford.On his way home from work one day, Sherif encountered a young girl whose father worked as a security guard in a building of an up and coming neighborhood in Cairo. The girl had only three crayons and a piece of paper, but was determined to create something beautiful. This sparked a sense of urgency for Sherif, who decided he needs to create a space for underprivileged children who live in affluent areas due to their parents’ jobs but are otherwise unable to afford learning art even as a hobby.
This is when Sketch A Peace was born, a safe and vibrant space for children to learn and create art. Sherif and his brilliant team of volunteer artists would provide the children with all the tools and training necessary for them to create the art they want. There is to be no limits to what their imagination could create or to how they choose to express themselves through art. Sherif would then take their artwork and sell it for display at nurseries, schools, coffee shops and restaurants as decorative pieces. The money will go directly to the children so they don’t feel like this is another charity trying to make them feel better about themselves and their situation, but rather something they earned for creating valuable art.
Peace First’s incredible Fellows in Residence for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) provided Sherif with customized mentoring and guidance throughout every stage of his project. A mini grant from Peace First allowed the Sketch A Peace team to put together an art Carnival where they displayed and promoted the beautiful artwork created by the children. “The sense of pride and accomplishment these children feel when they see their art displayed and sought after is invaluable,” says Sherif. For Sherif and his team, art is a vehicle for peace and self expression “Art shouldn’t be a commodity and the inability to access it because of one’s financial or social status is an injustice that I will continue to fight”, he added. To learn more about Sherif and Sketch a Peace visit his page on Facebook!