This project aimed to offer support to refugees and to help them to integrate into the local community in Toulouse, one of the main cities hosting refugees in France.
Our partner organization gathered refugees and inhabitants of the city of Toulouse. Our goal was to highlight refugees’ talents, demonstrating that they are more than what they are simply referred to, and to make them an integral part of Toulouse.
Location of the event
The two walls that were painted belong to the Henri Desbals Cultural Center in the neighborhood of Bagatelle, the main cultural centre in the city, which was inspired by the idea and hosted the event. It is a focal site for the city as the young people of Toulouse tend to gather there to learn about art, literature and new ideas. The event concept was to bring local professional artists and skilled refugees together in order to paint the wall. The aim was to make the refugees feel welcome and included in the society, in which they could literally leave their mark. They showed the Toulouse residents that everyone has a talent, a story and a dream to share.
The ‘Wall of Expression’
The Toulousain and refugee artists wanted the wall to be the celebration of the diversity among the city’s population, the mixture of cultures and the talent that everyone possesses. Now, the colorful wall is a symbol of what people can create together, cherishing their different backgrounds rather than judging them and inspiring versatile ideas instead of denouncing them. The idea was to write a peace message in more than 40 languages and paint birds as a symbol of freedom. The inspiring words in different languages adorn the wall, encouraging people to celebrate their diversity and to respect each other’s uniqueness and culture.
We also organized workshops and information booths for the refugees. The participants and passers-by left their messages, beliefs and hopes on a large piece of paper – ‘The Wall of Expression’. The Director of the cultural center and representatives of the municipality also gave a speech highlighting the refugees’ integration, tolerance and co-creation.
Active community participation
Around 80 volunteers, refugees, artists and local people participated in the event. The painting of the wall coincided with a neighborhood gathering, allowing more people to see the mural and the working process. Thus, the messages of tolerance and solidarity reached a large audience.
The participants, mainly youth and children, held discussions on tolerance, cultural and religious diversity, peace, refugees and integration, where the impact of the refugees was their integration into the community.
The mural is a symbol of tolerance and co-creation, thus encouraging the Toulousains and refugees to work together and build a more inclusive and colorful society. The refugee community participated actively in the project, contributing with their talent and ideas, hence overcoming the marginalization and enhancing the integration and the communication in the entire community.
Find out more about Dulux Valentine in France here.