After covering the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East and reporting on the ongoing humanitarian challenges caused by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Tara realized the enormous deficit in psychosocial and mental health support provided for war-torn refugees.
An avid advocate for refugees—especially children—she weaponized her anger into change, creating a platform to help heal the invisible wounds of war and displacement.
In 2016 Kangarlou launched Art of Hope, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that helps empower local grassroots in the Middle East to tackle Mental Health and psychosocial issues among refugees and vulnerable members of the host community. Art of Hope is the only American non-profit that solely focuses on PTSD, trauma, and psychosocial support among war-torn refugees in the Middle East—mainly operating in Lebanon.
In 2019, Art of Hope was recognized as a Force For Change by HRH Duke and Duchess Of Sussex.
“Trauma, psychological vulnerabilities, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are invisible scars that torment millions of war-torn refugees worldwide. While these may not be visible to the naked eye, they are wounds that if not cured will affect generations to come.”
About the Organization
With children making up nearly half of its casualties—40 percent of them under the age of 11—the Syrian conflict is the worst humanitarian crisis since the second world war. Today, with more than 50 percent of the Syrian population currently displaced, the tragedy encompasses all of daily life.
Syrian children and their families have not only endured forced displacement. As the spectators of war, many suffer from mental and psychological traumas caused by violence, death, hunger, loss, and sexual and emotional abuse.
In addition, they face a future status deprived of consistent education and work opportunities—leaving the international community with the peril of losing an entire generation of Syrians. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), when a child is not in school for more than two years, the likelihood of them going back is minimal. This would not only be a catastrophic loss for Syrians, but also for a world that will be faced with a broken generation of Syrians. However, while children are deprived from educational opportunities, ART OF HOPE focuses on uplifting their dignity and self-esteem despite all existing challenges.
ART OF HOPE supports this population through art-therapy, psychosocial support, and vocational training. In our efforts, we also aspire to empower local psychologists, therapists, and social workers to support the refugee population in host communities.
It is critical to realize that Syrian refugees once had homes, jobs, families, opportunities, aspirations, dreams, and dignity. Today, all that, is stripped away and has given way to fear, depression, joblessness, vulnerability, lack of education, and desperation—where at the core, people’s biggest dream is to survive. At ART OF HOPE, we are committed in healing the invisible wounds of war caused by these challenges—wounds that, while not visible to the naked eye, will have an enormous impact on the refugee community and society as a whole.
“Our aim is to engage children in activities during the time when they’re facing the harsh reality of staying behind with no opportunity of a formal and informal education.
In addition, by engaging mothers and adult girls in vocational training programs we aim to bring back a sense of self-worth, dignity, and empowerment that in the long-term will help them overcome the harsh realities of life as survivors of war—whether in a host country or back home in Syria.”
- Tara Kangarlou, Founder, Art Of Hope