Art teacher Amy Hall didn’t just want to teach her children about portraiture last semester – she wanted to teach them about empathy.

That’s why Hall started working in collaboration with the Memory Project, an organization that invites students and art teachers to create portraits of abused or neglected children in order to make them feel valued.

“Middle school can be tough (hormones, puberty, changing bodies) and I have found that sometimes drawing yourself is the most difficult thing to do,” says Hall.

“So, I worked with … this amazing organization [that] works in countries all over the world with children experiencing substantial challenges. My loving and compassionate students chose to work with children from Syria, because they felt these children could benefit the most.”

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Hall’s students at the Friends School of Wilmington in North Carolina received photographs of Syrian children and orphans from Memory Project volunteers. After creating a breathtaking series of portraits based on the photos, they sent them off back to Syria.

The Memory Project workers then made a video of the kids’ reactions to the portraits.

Despite the joy clearly exuding from the children’s reactions to the portraits, Hall said that there wasn’t a dry eye in her classroom after they had watched it themselves.

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“I remember spending all of November working on our portraits,” says one of Hall’s students named Louise. “I knew they were going to Syria, but I didn’t really know exactly where they were going or how they were going to get there. All I knew is that they were going to someone who needed it.

“When we received the video I was blown away by how happy the kids were. In both the refugee camp and the orphanage, they barely had anything because they weren’t able to keep all their personal belongings, so the fact that they had these pictures was a huge thing for them.”

Another student named Lily said: “Although the paintings were fun, seeing the kids’ faces when they took out their portrait was definitely the best part. I love making people happy, and seeing kids who usually can’t do the things we can is awesome.”

(WATCH the video below)


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