In spring 2017, young people in Ritsona came to us with a bold proposal: to launch a publication that was proudly and unambiguously their own.
It all started with piles of artwork, writing and photographs that were accumulating in Lighthouse Relief's Youth Engagement Space (YES) in Ritsona camp.
These were the products of several weeks of creative workshops that were regularly held in the space since early 2017. Through these activities, youth aged 16-25 had access to the resources and support they needed to develop individual and group art projects that allowed them to share their experiences and perspectives in a meaningful way. Some were skilled artists and writers that were grateful for the opportunity to refine their craft. Others were young people that were seeking an outlet for creative self-expression, who surprised even themselves with the quality of work they were able to produce.
At first, their work was safely tucked away in private notebooks and sketchbooks, but there was a growing desire among youth to compile and share these creations. To that end, the Ritsona Kingdom Journal was born.
Every creative decision around the development and dissemination of the Ritsona Kingdom Journal has been youth-driven.
With support from Lighthouse Relief staff, youth skillfully maneuvered every stage of the publication's development: from content creation to graphic design and dissemination in camp.
Through this, they demonstrated complete ownership of the project from start to finish. Even the name of the magazine was a reference to the "Ritsona Kingdom" that the youth cleverly coined for their current community.
Today, the Ritsona Kingdom Journal has become a platform for youth to share their perspectives in their own voice, and in their own way.
While the publication has been a much-loved opportunity for creative self-expression, it's also proven to be an important outlet to share youth perspectives on broader legal and political issues surrounding the European refugee situation.
Current content includes everything from letters to global leaders, essays on displacement issues, photography on life in Ritsona and many, many, pieces of thoughtful and powerful artwork. Together, they show the tremendous strength and resilience of refugee youth, and their strong interest in taking a stand on issues that directly impact their lives.