TESS_ CLARKE // SEEK THE PEACE Written by SYDNEY COOPER Edited by MERRICK PORCHÉDDU
“In fact, even having the freedom to be creative is an answer to lifelong prayers for many of these people.”
ne of the most troubled intersections in the heart of Dallas is called Five Points, located in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood—a densely populated area of over 25,000 foreign refugees who have been displaced in our city by global circumstances. About 10 years ago at this very intersection, Tess Clarke and her husband Jason were robbed at gunpoint. Most people would be traumatized from the incident; but not this couple. Instead, the Clarkes decided to make Vickery Meadow the home base for a non-profit they always desired to start that would focus on aiding, training, and stabilizing foreign refugees. Seek the Peace was founded in 2009 as an answer to a refugee crisis that has since kept increasing due to the Syrian war and unrest throughout the Middle East. The organization works alongside the International Rescue Committee and the Refugee Services of Texas to provide what they need to adapt to their new home in Dallas. “Refugees are ordinary people in extreme circumstances,” Clarke stated. “We are most moved by the people we meet daily. Next, we are motivated to present solutions when we see who these people are and what they are up against when it comes to governmental services currently being offered to them. These people have become our friends and our family. We fight for them.” One particular focus of Seek the Peace is to work with young girls by helping them identify their innate gifts, talents, and value they bring to society—a difficult task for women who have been neglected, ostracized, or looked down upon. For women who live in the refugee community, Seek the Peace has a special creative program: candle making. The candle making program came from noticing the differences in religion and how it was becoming an alarming conflict. “The women may all be Muslim, but they come from different parts of the world where there are different sects of the religion. You have all these women wearing hijabs, but that doesn’t mean they all agree with one another,” Clarke said. The purpose of the candle making was for the women to sit together and learn from one another in a safe environment. The candles are also a way for the women of the refugee families to have income to support their families, or in some cases, themselves. Seek the Peace encourages their volunteers to immerse themselves in the community and to get to know people. This process breaks down the walls and opens a gateway to trust and to find commonality. “I would love to see Seek the Peace partner with more emerging artists from marginalized places. The arts are a huge avenue to bring about healing and transformation in the lives of people who need it most right now.” One of the greatest accomplishments (according to Clarke) is building trust in the community, which has created space for people to encounter a sense of belonging for the first time in a long time. Trust also creates opportunity for friendships to develop between people that would never culturally be friends. Another achievement for Seek the Peace was partnering with First Aid Arts to create the Resilience program, an art therapy solution to major psychological trauma from war and torture. Learn more about Seek the Peace at www.seekingpeace.org or by visiting their offices in Vickery Meadow at 7225 Fair Oaks Ave., Dallas, TX 75231. Catch @TESSCLRK on Instagram.
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