Anthrow Circus

Mauritania and Its Real People

STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAN GLEASON

Northwest Africa’s Mauritania often struck me as a true fly-over state, when I flew over it on my way home from greener parts of the continent. Despite my interest in people and places, from the cockpit of the private aviation planes I pilot, nothing I could see down below in Mauritania attracted me. Rather, looking below, I was all the more glad for sufficient fuel on board to continue to Western Sahara or Morocco or maybe even the Canary Islands. Every time I crossed it, the country tidily became an uncompelling memory as soon as I exited Mauritanian airspace.

But that all changed after it became one of my destinations.

Losing Naïveté While Advocating for Afghans on Capitol Hill

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAMI L. RICE

I spent a May afternoon rushing through the wide halls of the U.S. Senate office buildings. It wasn’t the first time I was on Capitol Hill this past spring, but this time I chanced being late for an important flight because the clock was ticking on this issue that kept me coming back to the Hill. The next morning, I learned that day’s meetings had seemingly been for naught.

Yalda: An Afghan Winter Story

MIXED-MEDIA VIDEO BY “TILL WE HAVE FACES”

INTRODUCTORY TEXT BY HEATHER M. SURLS

Setara, a 17-year-old from Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, remembers falling asleep at her grandmother’s house as a girl. Grandma Gul, or Grandma Flower, would sit beside her with a cup of chai and rock-sugar candies and tell her stories. One of these was the story of Yalda, a traditional Afghan tale about a village girl who meets a feared “witch” on the longest night of the year.

A Widow and a Child: Sexual Violence Is Not About Sex

A BOOK EXCERPT BY SARAH DAWN PETRIN

An excerpt from “Me Too: A Global Crisis,” chapter 6 of Sarah Dawn Petrin’s book BRING RAIN: Helping Humanity in Crisis

As an international relief worker whose career spans 20 years and 20 countries, I’ve worked to address many problems caused by war, disaster, and disease. But the one that has confounded me the most is sexual violence, which affects one in three women globally.
In order to end the cycle of violence against women, it’s important to understand why sexual violence is taking place.

My Neighbors From Myanmar Taught Me to Receive

STORY BY HEATHER M. SURLS

PHOTOS BY HAWA IMAGES, USED BY PERMISSION OF WORLD RELIEF CHICAGOLAND

Years ago, a neighbor gave me a glossy 4×6-inch picture of Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi backed by the red and yellow of the National League for Democracy’s flag. I no longer remember the giver’s identity—at that time my Burmese neighbors numbered in the hundreds—but since the country’s late-January military coup that imprisoned Suu Kyi and others, Myanmar (formerly Burma) has been on my mind.

When I reflect now, those three years among the Burmese were like bootcamp for me, a foundational, immersive course in relating to people different from me. At that time, I didn’t realize this would be a preparatory phase for longer-term work among refugees. I moved in with the idea that I would help them—I did not know how much my neighbors would shape me.

Trauma-Informed Art-Making: An Interview

ARTICLE BY HEATHER M. SURLS
PHOTOS BY SARAH RACINE

Over the last decade Sarah Racine has worked internationally as a trauma-informed art-maker, helping a spectrum of individuals—from victims of human trafficking to refugees—find healing from trauma, abuse, and war. Though Racine calls Lancaster, Pennsylvania, “home” in the U.S., she recently relocated to Amman, Jordan, to study Arabic and explore options for working long-term in the region. Racine sat with Anthrow Circus’s Jordan correspondent, Heather Surls, to talk about her profession and how the arts can bring healing and hope to adults and children affected by trauma.

The Conundrum of Return to Syria

STORY BY HEATHER M. SURLS
ILLUSTRATIONS BY RAHAF ADNAN OUDAH

From afar, the plight of refugees can be hard to understand. Why did they leave their homeland in the first place? What is daily life like in the place in which they’ve tried to find safety? Will they return home one day? Our correspondent in Jordan takes us deep into the lives of two Syrian families who fled to neighboring Jordan and now long to return home as most of Syria regains a level of calm. Learn why the question of whether to return to Syria has no straightforward answer.

MicroView: Mahboob’s Afghanistan

STORY AND PHOTOS BY MAHBOOB FAIZI


In the newest installment in our roving View From Here series Mahboob Faizi takes us to a quiet spot near Kabul, Afghanistan. With this article, we’re excited to add a new language in our Sans Frontières series of articles published in multiple languages. Mahboob has written for us in both English and Dari, which is the version of Persian spoken in Afghanistan.

La dignité dans l’exil (Dignity in Exile)

STORY BY HÉLÈNE SCHWITZER-BORGIALLO
ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY KAMI L. RICE

French academic Hélène Schwitzer-Borgiallo reports for us this week on innovative projects undertaken by a duo of English playwrights who are bringing together groups of people who don’t normally get to meet each other.

Mettre sa créativité au service de la rencontre des cultures : voilà l’objectif du duo de dramaturges anglais dont nous parle cette semaine Hélène Schwitzer-Borgiallo, enseignante à l’Université Paris 8.

Returning Home to Inspiration

STORY BY HEATHER M. SURLS

Heather Surls introduces us to a young designer who has found unexpected inspiration back home in Jordan—both design inspiration and inspiration in terms of whom she employs.