(Al-Waʿr neighbourhood, Homs, Syria) The buildings in the al-Waʿr neighbourhood have been arbitrarily shelled with missiles since early 2013.
The neighbourhood still houses the residents of the old city of Homs, whose landmarks were destroyed by the conflict. These people still grieve over the remains of the old city, dreaming of going home.
A number of the government snipers are located in regime-held regions and buildings in the peripheries of the besieged neighbourhood (in the Homs National Hospital, the al-Birr Hospital, al-Ghaba, the gardens (al-Basatin) and al-Jazira at-Tasiʿa). Therefore, the opposition military factions built mounds made of debris and dirt, and piled up demolished and burnt out cars on many lanes to prevent snipers from spotting civilians.
In 2015, a group of young amateurs passionate about plastic arts and painting initiated an artistic activity in spite of the siege and the destruction, aiming to turn the scary sight of the mounds into purposeful and funny drawings that mock those who are responsible for the devastation.
This initiative managed to transform these sights which used to influence negatively the neighbourhood residents into a positive form of art. The project continues to rely on limited personal capacities despite the lack of materials and their high prices when available.
The same youth team has organised the Homs Documentary Film Festival, whereemerging photographers from the neighbourhood present documentaries about the reality of al-Waʿr. The winner receives a nominal amount of money and is guaranteed his film’s copyrights. The second film festival will take place at the end of 2015.
It is indeed remarkable that the al-Waʿr neighbourhood is witnessing so many festivals and youth events despite the on-going siege.