18-year-old Netshet Fisehe, is one of 2.1 million people who have been displaced due to the conflict in northern Ethiopia. She is staying in Sebacare Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) in the capital city of Mekelle, Tigray region where over 9,000 IDPs reside. She has been here for five months and despite the fact she has been separated from her family due to the fighting, she is a proud volunteer at the UNICEF supported Bete ‘My Home’ temporary learning center which provides integrated education and protection services.
Netshet teaches children to draw to help them express their feelings about the conflict. She believes a picture can tell a thousand words.
“I enjoy drawing as instead of expressing myself in words, I can express myself better in drawing,” she said. “It comes easier when you put words into a picture. I draw when I feel stressed, and it always makes me feel better.”
She teaches children how to draw and also shows them her drawings and asks them what the drawing means to get younger children to share their feelings. She explains to the children that this drawing is of a mother who despite the fighting around her, she is determined to protect her baby. “I keep my drawings simple for the children so they can understand what they mean and then I encourage them to draw about their experiences,” she said.
Netshet also has her own set of drawings which tell a story of sadness and strength. “This is the first drawing in a story,” she said. “She is a beautiful lady, and the flower shows her beauty, but society is undermining her. The wolf is dominating and very strong and is attacking her, exposing her to violence.” The second drawing (above) is the same woman who is full of shame because she has been raped.
“This is the same lady (one drawing up), and you can see she is very small, and her dress is disorganized,” Netshet said with tears in her eyes. “This is all about her desperation and how she has lost all hope.” Netshet calls the final drawing (above) in this story ‘The Window of Hope’. “She has had counseling now and she has hope and feels there is a future for her,” she said with a smile on her face.