On our Visits of the Camp we were shown around by a very nice Volunteer. Sheintroduced us to a room of eight Syrians, four of which were ready to help us in our project and provided us with insights.
Besides stories over everyday rituals like tea and Syrian home traditions, we were shown the little gimmicks to improve the bare rooms where they are living in at the moment: How they pulled out screws and nails from the walls to make clothing hooks; how you make a wallmounted phone holder with just duct tape and a piece of wood; where to store the food;
they showed us how they hack the beds to create more privacy and how to shield the light falling onto the upper beds with merely pieces of wood and a blanket to a point where one could create an entire ceiling with just white cloth.
We learnt quickly that the ideas of how to use the space could never occur to someone who has never been in that exact position it was evident that they know best about
the needs and necessities in their very situation and environment.
With the creative potential, the only problem lies in the lack of tools and materials.
To see what would happen if material were available, we made a little experiment where
we brought basics like duct tape, cable ties, string and durable cardboard and looked
what they would think of building intuitively. Despite scepticism in the beginning, it was
beautiful to witness the moment when everyone in the room joined to figure out the best construction for a wallmounted shelf, built with mortise and tenon joints. The fact the
project was dealt with in such a manner, shows the willingness to engage these kinds of challenges with seriousness and a certain claim to quality and that it is not only about practicality and pure function, for such a shelf could have been easily assembled with
just tape and cardboard. It was fun for us to join the working process and thinking with
them about the construction and making, but more importantly, it was fun for them to be challenged in making something useful and to make that beautifully. Mohammed, who
came up with the idea of using joinery, later joked saying he would love to make such
shelves for the whole camp and we hoped, it was not merely a joke, but a mentality that we could continue to work with. In fact, we left all the spare materials in their rooms and by our next visit they had built another two shelves and a small storage for clothes under one of the beds.