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An Undying Hope

"An Undying Hope portrays the journey of our Syrian Art Academy students. Students who have faced the loss of loved ones, some of whom have helped carry corpses of family members who were killed en route, or died of starvation, across the border from Syria into Kurdistan. Students who have lost home, lands and of course their culture and education.

Students who have watched their parents, former doctors, midwives, bankers, teachers be reduced to working in potato fields or looking for day labour on building sites in order to survive and provide their family with basic food items namely bread and rice.

Students whose parents continually make them aware that they are a new generation who will exceed them in every way. They are the future. Students who sometimes come hungry to class, having given their portion to a hungry sibling. Students who know the power of overcoming, students who have found An Undying Hope which they pursue with all their might.

Behind every dark circumstance, there is hope and light. Our students and their families have faced brutal oppression but their spirit remains unbroken. Even in their darkest days, there dreams for the future shine brightly. Their resilience has broken barriers opening new doors for life and hope."

- Sherzad. Director of The Hope Academy of Art in War City.


“The greatest virtue in man in his undying sense of hope.” 

Storm Constantine


Sozdar Zindan Mohommed

"My name is Sozdar, I am 16 years old, a tenth grade science student but I had to leave school as I need to work to help support my family.


I came to Kurdistan due to the war in Syria. We lived in Damascus which was a nightmare. We had lacked food for a long time and were often close to starving. Then the bombings began which were totally terrifying. We just left, we had reached the end of our ability to survive and knew that we would die if we stayed and could die if we left. The way across Syria to Kurdistan was indeed dangerous, we mostly traveled by night and hid by day. We faced extreme fear, fatigue, hunger, thirst and intense heat. We saw those who died on the way, their families carrying stinking bodies for honorable burial in Kurdistan.


The exhibition hosted by our Tutor, Mr. Sherzad, is a reflection of our Undying Hope, it goes beyond our present circumstances and reflects the future that we all hope for ourselves. Our exhibition could have reflected death, the darkness which is a part of us, but we chose to portray the beauty, the possibilities, the hope, the future. The death with which we are familiar is being swallowed up by An Undying Hope."


Nisrin Mahmmod Barjas

"I am Nisrin, and I have shared my story with you before. My family and I fled Qamishlo for the same reasons, bombing, war, no work and no food. We lived in fear, surrounded by rubble. We decided to make this exhibition and to present it to our parents and community during Ramadan, as a tribute to our journey. Literally a journey from death to life, from chains to freedom. From dread of the next day to bright hope for our future. I wanted to show my parents and my friends that this Undying Hope is a part of me, it fuels me to study, it fuels me to learn as much as I can from my tutor. This Undying Hope allows me to express my journey, share my feelings, to discover bright new colours and to put away the black and dark colours. I am so proud to share the joy of the new life I am discovering."


“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” 

Proverbs 23:18


Ranya Remzi Muhammed

"I am Ranya, I am 14 years old and since escaping from Syria I do not attend school. We fled from the inhumane and oppressive conditions against the Kurds that continue until this day. We fled Syria via Turkey, crossing the Ibrahim Khalil border into Kurdistan.

I have been drawing since I was 7 years old, but joining The Hope Academy of Art gave me professional training and guidance. Undying Hope is first of all a representation of the new atmosphere in which I live, one which gave me confidence and expelled the fear of the past. An atmosphere of serenity and trust where I was able to relax and cross over the mental barriers from life in Syria and the unknown status in the Kurdish region. I have been able to paint without the fear of bombs, and as I have discovered the world of art, this beautiful atmosphere of peace and hope, I have embraced an Undying Hope, that I am able. My dream is to be a successful artist and to provide art classes for children from war torn regions, to give them hope."


Bahar Hozan Battal

"My name is Bahar, I came to Kurdistan when I was six months old. My parents told me of the struggles and difficulties, and also how President Barzani greeted us, opened the country to us and warmly welcomed us as Syrian Kurds.

I have been with Springs of Hope, in the Rainbow Centre, since I was four years old. Although I left to go to school, I was always in touch with Shex Khalid in particular, and more recently became part of The Hope Academy of Art.

I inherited many of my parents' fears of instability, of lack and continual anxiety but these slowly have healed particularly as I paint which gives me hope and confidence. My Tutor Mr Sherzad knows that I want to be a mathematician, art helps me with that as much is mathematical. Mr Sherzad is very kind, he explains carefully and quietly with great patience and forgives my mistakes.

We arranged the exhibition for Ramadan, as we are Muslims, and as such it's a festive time to celebrate with our families and friends. Shex Khalid, Mr. Sherzad and Mrs Areena welcomed our families with such graciousness and dignity that we were immediately one family standing together looking at the face of hope. I was greatly encouraged, and I think that the hope and faith of our entire community was strengthened. This is the most amazing centre in all of the Kurdistan region because it gives us HOPE."


Heaven Rashad Ibrahim

"I am Heaven from Kobane. We smuggled ourselves into the Kurdish Region of Iraq, settling temporarily in a refugee dwelling place in Erbil. It was there that I heard about Springs of Hope Foundation.


Later we moved to War City. Whilst my family were busy settling in, I went to ask where Springs of Hope was. It is a very small neighbourhood for refugees from Syria and Mosul so I found it easily and registered for the art academy.


Mr Sherzad accepted me without experience, saying that "nothing is impossible, that I should believe in myself." He has continually encouraged me, and shown me that there is nothing to fear in art, there are no mistakes. The exhibition An Undying Hope was to encourage us, as we paused to look at our journey, at our progression but it was also to encourage and strengthen our parents who continually worry about our future. Their faces were so proud, so relaxed and so joyful. They went home both proud of us and believing that we do have a future.


My mother could not believe that our journey had taken us to Erbil for that brief time where we heard about Erbil, and then we were placed just a few blocks away from Springs of Hope. That alone showed her there is Undying Hope."


“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” 

Emily Dickinson


Awaz Jamil Ahmed

"My name is Awaz, I am 17 years old and come from Roj Ava. The way here to safety was long, hard and terrifying. Kurdistan provided a place of refuge but as I had no educational certificates and no papers, education was denied me.


The Rainbow Centre, and the art academy are my very loving home and school. By being in this centre I have truly come to look above my lack, further than my problems and to live in hope, to look at life through the lens of hope. I will become an artist like my Tutor Mr. Sherzad.


I was so proud to display my work in a formal exhibition. It gave me belief, faith, and hope that will be with me all my life. Thank you."


“For I know the plans I have for you ,declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” 

Jeremiah 29:11


Ranya's Mum

"Hello everybody across the world, I am Ranya’s Mum. This exhibition brought joy to the faces of our children and therefore to us. Our children have been deprived of everything in this life, to find such acceptance, such care and love is rare. I look at my daughter’s artwork and I see the process of healing in her life, as she moves away from dark colours, moving away from the depiction of hardship, moving to endless ideas symbolising her belief in the future.

My daughter grows in her youth, her talent and her vision thanks to you. I want to tell you that watching her present her art work in this exhibition gave me joy and happiness that is greater than ever dressing her in a graduation gown. I will never forget this day of immense hope and pride."


Nisrin's Father

"I am Nisrin’s father. Sadly I was unable to attend the exhibition but I had talked with Nisrin both before and after the event.

Her longing to share every aspect of her journey as portrayed through the exhibition and her eagerness to participate in this first exhibition of her life, was so catching, that I felt that I was there with her.

I regretted that I had never encouraged her art talent, in fact until recently I did not know that she was talented and it was beneficial to her to invest her time in art. Unfortunately we are a community whose focus is making money to put bread on the table. We are in continual survival mode, and do not look at the talents of our children. I saw how my lack of interest was like killing the one thing that brings her joy and completion. I can not tell her how to paint, that her soul will tell her, but I hope that she will use her gift to convey the message of the tragedies that we have suffered. The world these days has become very small, with so many areas in great pain. I think that my daughter can bring Undying Hope to others who are suffering.

With God’s help I will provide all the tools that she needs and will be the first to arrive and the last to leave when the team holds the next exhibition. God bless you all."


“Hope is a sign of transcendence, a point where something beyond penetrates into the human situation.” 

Peter Berger, Sociologist


Buhar's Grandmother

“I would like to thank Shex Khalid for his continual care for, his interest in and his love for our children over the past years. I would like to thank Mr Sherzad for his careful and patient teaching of art to our children.

Each painting was photographed both by the Springs of Hope staff, giving ample time to the families to admire, and to understand the content of the painting and then to photograph.

Our children were honored as artists. These beautiful, diverse, distinctive and expressive paintings reflect the reality of our children, and relieve the stress and trauma of our community being so far away from home, and all that is precious to us.

The exhibition showed that although our lives were cut off in the space of a minute, there is An Undying Hope . Thank you to everyone."



Please help us to keep cultivating agents of Hope in this world full of despair. Those who know the Undying Hope and as Victor Frankl wrote are able to use hope as "the transformation of personal tragedy into triumph, turning one’s predicament into human achievement."


For us it means helping them to focus on the future and not adversity. It means helping them to embrace a culture of Hope, where it is their launching and landing point, it is their way of thinking.


The Old Testament Hebraic writers recognised that Hope, is a a cord, one which becomes pulled taut and tense whilst waiting in hope for the anticipated outcome, one in which God was involved.


It means that we have to show them the way to Hope, that Hope is accessible. It is not being optimistic, it is not wishful thinking but if fully embraceable and attainable. We have to provide the pathways that enable their Hope to thrive, so that they will have the long term willpower and motivation to stay with the tautness of the Rope of Hope until the tautness is cut and they have become an Agent of Hope, one that is sure, firm and Undying.


Can you help?

With your help we are cultivating agents of hope in a world full of despair.


Every donation makes a huge difference.


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