Project by Ana Camusso Wapner and David Wapner in Arad with Asylum Seekers’ Children

Hi all,

today I would like to introduce you to an art project for children of asylum
seekers from Sudan in Arad, Israel. To get further information about the small
city of Arad, please see here:,_Israel

As we already know, Israel is a colonialist country which does not comply with
international treaties for refugees even if Israel signed the UN Refugee Convention
in 1951 (

But the
reality is completely different from the legislation: indeed, Israel practices
the detention of asylum seeker from Sudan and Eritrea to force them to voluntarily
go back to their country (by self-expulsion). The asylum seekers is jailed or even
exiled to a third country like Uganda or Rwanda he does not belong to. The
detention is practiced with single asylum seekers while family men are not
The biggest
problem for the children is that they live in a situation of complete
insecurity, suffering from enormous identity conflicts. The Israeli education
system does not hold out any prospects for the future. In Israeli schools
universal history is not taught.
All is referred to Jewish history
alone. The racism towards Africans in Israel is heavy. Our German editorial
team has already published a conference about it by the Israeli journalist and
activist David Sheen.
And we have
also talked about Dr. Rami Gudovitch who works with African asylum seekers in Tel
Aviv and with expelled people in Africa.
Here you can
read the whole interview with Dr. Gudovitch:

About this specific artistic project for children of asylum seekers, we fell in
love with directly because it is creative and innovating, we have spoken with Ana
Camusso Wapner and David Wapner, two Israeli artists born in Argentina who have
been living in Israel for 17 years now.
introducing you to the interview ProMosaik e.V. did with Ana, I would like to
briefly introduce you to her and her work. For this purpose, I would like to
give the word to Ana:

Donation page for the project:        

“My name is Ana Camusso Wapner. Together with my husband David I am leading the
crowd funding campaign with the aim to make our art summer workshop for asylum
seekers’ children in Arad, the city where we have been living for seven years.

We have
lived very hard times in this city. We were witness of the South Sudanese
asylum seekers expulsion. We were not involved with the refugee issue and at
that time we opened our eyes to this so critical and serious situation.

As an artist, I paint with different tools. I have also worked in multi-media
videos with my husband David Wapner, I have illustrated many books for
children, also with virtual tools.
The last exhibition I did in 2014 was entitled The
Ice and the Mud
, focusing on
the Italian poet
Dante Alighieri, and the Divine Comedy. It was a
completely free version about the master piece of the Italian poet. David
participated in the writing of two apocryphal trios of Dante. It took place in
The White House Gallery of the kibbutz Nir Oz next to Gaza. At that moment we
could feel that the situation was very tense, but we could not even imagine what
would have happened in Gaza, the aggression, the war…. All the innocent civilians
My country
of birth is Argentina. There, I suffered political persecution during the so
dark times of the Junta Militar.
Between 1976 and 1983 my family had to live in exile for many years.

The present project is my contribution to a promise I have made with my husband
David to the children of the Nubian community in Arad. We hope that this
project will be reality soon, and thank you all for your support!”

The association ProMosaik is firmly convinced that art and artistic values can
change the world. Our dream is exactly the same dream Ana has: she wants Israel
to do exactly the opposite with asylum seekers of what it is doing at this

Thanks to you all for your attention and your support!

Dr. Phil. Milena Rampoldi –
ProMosaik e.V. 

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: Ana, what is the most important thing you keep in
mind when you work with refugee children?
Ana Camusso: When we work with
refugees children in art, we frankly do not behave differently from how we do
with “normal” children. Art is a universal and very democratic process, because
it is the expression of humanity in its best sense of the word. It is one of
the deepest human experiences. One possible definition of art: art is the
capacity of humans to express their feelings and discover their internal world
to project it towards the external world. This internal perception is inserted
into a difficult and interesting world, so step by step by specific tools – visual
art, music, literature – you will understand yourself and your relationship to
the world. Of course, this whole process is full of contradictions and emotions,
problems and solutions. It is an open and endless process.  
The refugee children in our city,
Arad, are children who live a strong transformation process leaving in the
middle of an enormous solitude. They grow in families who live a continuous
change. So in the case of these children, there are times where they do not
even know where Africa is, for example. It could also happen that they do not
get any Sudanese cultural education from parents. Or they deny it, because they
are afraid of being different. And parents feel that they have lost their
authority toward their children what is extremely frustrating. All these
children go to Israeli public schools and receive very little information about
the rest of the world. This is a key point we have to consider. In public
school children do not learn universal history. Their learning is limited
to Israel and the history of the Jewish people. So, under those conditions, you
can imagine how this child with African roots has to try to survive in
such an ethnocentric culture. And the fact that this child has no legal status
in Israel, makes the situation even worse. On one hand, Israeli society asks
the kid to forget her/his identity, and on the other hand, it rejects him
completely. It is a pity that parents let their children forget African
culture, for example African songs, just because they want to avoid the
discrimination by Israeli society. But it is not just a pity, it is simply
wrong. It is wrong because African children could contribute a lot to the new
society, and they could do it with a lot of success.
In the stop motion movie, entitled The dream of the magical sofa,
you can see a clear example of that big transformation children are
living. Haifa models a sofa an expression of comfort in the middle of all the
difficult circumstances. Is it that what she was asking for? A place where to
rest? A place where to talk to others? A place protected in the middle of a
dark jungle? All these are very interesting questions…
Since we know the children and try to understand them because we are
also immigrants, and we have lived our migration history, even if at a
different level, but it is in our memory… The State offered us a frame. Israel
offers you a frame, and if you do not accept this frame, you will not succeed.
The frame cannot be changed or transformed. And this is exactly the problem of
Israel: that its society is built on the basis of those frames. Many people who
wanted to change Israel, are stigmatized and socially marginalized. So, all
those experiences we got through are our own experiences. So we can understand
the situation of those children better. However, in the workshop are let me
live art, by forgetting everything, and this is good for them.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: how can art contribute to help these children and

Ana Camusso: You can find some aspects of this question in my first
answer. Art can allow these children to discover who they really are, and to
accept their real identity. Art can also allow them to discover a new reality
in front of their eyes. And finally, and this is maybe the most important
aspect,  art can allow them to build another reality,
to create another reality, to imagine new alternatives and solutions to a
problem, or to many, many problems
. I feel that art means thinking and
feeling.  Of course, sometimes the process
is very painful, sometimes it is even funny, and confusing. But it always
contributes to release you of a very, very heavy load you are carrying with
you. If this happens, children do feel much better. But this process takes
time, much effort, and needs continuity. For us, this workshop is a complement
of the others organized by other NGOs in the city. They are a very important
presence for the children, but they do not do artistic work with them. So, with
our work we try to fill this gap. Unfortunately, there are no funds for it, and
we had to start our campaign.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: For ProMosaik e.V. working with refugees is
important to change our own society, to abandon racism, and discrimination. Why
is this so important for Israel today?

Ana Camusso: Israel considers
asylum seekers as a burden. Many Israelis consider them as infiltrators. But
asylum seekers in Israel are used as manpower in many places. They work hard,
and their lives are full of incertitude and fear. Israel signed the UN-Refugee
Convention in 1951, but does not comply with it at all. Israel does not fulfill
its obligations towards these asylum seekers. Their children do not have any
status because their parents do not have any. So the chance of becoming part of
the society and of being able to change it, is very little. You cannot change a
country if you cannot become part of it. This is the negative aspect of Israeli
politics related to asylum seekers and refugees.  But there is also the positive aspect to be
noticed: the African community in Israel is very dynamic, and has a changing
potential, in particular for what concerns the reality in Tel Aviv. There
something important is changing. You notice it if you see the interactions
between the African, and the Jewish community. It is difficult to name what is
happening there, but for sure something is deeply changing.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: Open prisons for asylum
seekers are a sad Israeli reality which is not known abroad. What is wrong with
Israel and what must change urgently in the refugee politics of the Israeli

Ana Camusso: Israel is a
colonialist country, so it is not difficult to understand how wrong its way to
look at things can be. On one hand, Israel does not offer any legal status to
asylum seekers. On the other hand, it creates many Palestinian refugees. At the
moment, Israel is governed by a right-wing coalition destroying all not
accepting their dogma. And their dogma is to give people very little
information and a lot of empty propaganda. Of course, this political principle,
affects all aspects of Israeli life. Many times it is amazing how human
right activists are absolutely surprised that their government builds open
jails for refugees, even if they perfectly know about the administrative arrest
of Palestinians, and about how Israeli soldiers treat Palestinian children. It
is difficult to respect human rights in a country which works day by day for
the perpetuation of a colonialist and racist regime. So it is clear that the
bad situation of African asylum seekers will never change, if the occupation
does not stop. What I would like to say is that if the occupation has an end,
many other things, and mainly the injustice regarding refugees, will have an
end as well. Refugees will be considered as human beings, instead of as

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: for the association ProMosaik
e.V. art is a way of self-expression which can heal the soul of these children.
What does art mean to you applied to the work with asylum seekers’ children?
Ana Camusso: I would like to refer to what I said in the beginning about
it. What I can add in this context, is the question about how the art of asylum
seekers’ children influenced my own art.
And about this, I can tell you a
lot. I admire the artistic production of these children because it is full of
energy. These children have a good disposition towards everything you give to
them. They are happy, and they feel joy when they paint and model. They show a
positive attitude towards their problems. They express their conflicts and try
to solve them. Sometimes, they solve them with violence, sometimes with
tolerance, but in all cases you feel that something very important is going on
in their lives and that they do not give up. So this is the best an artist can
learn from them.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: What is your dream and hope for all these asylum
seekers who are not accepted in Israel?

Ana Camusso: First we hope peace will
come in their countries of origin. We would like to see a Sudanese country
which is democratic and to which one day people can return to live in peace in
a tolerant society where they can practice their religion and live their cultural
life. And I hope the same for Eritrea. But for the moment this remains a dream.
The reality is that there are dictators supported by Western countries, and
that people are displaced because of war, climate change, an ad terrible
poverty growing day by day. So our dream is that Israel will do what it has to
do. Israel is a full member of the United Nations and has signed the 1951 Refugee
At the present, the Government of Israel does absolutely the
opposite of what is indicated in the 1951-Convention. It prohibits to Sudanese
asylum seekers to apply for asylum, and treats them as if they were
infiltrators. Israel ignores their individual needs and requests. Our dream is
that Israel will do exactly the opposite in the near future.

Donation page for the project: