Photo courtesy Demetrio Nasol
Photo courtesy Demetrio Nasol
Photo courtesy Demetrio Nasol


Orphan Relief, a non-profit organization, hosted its second annual Art Expo in Kochoff Halls A and B on Friday, Nov. 13. The expo included submissions from community members ranging from paintings, drawings, photography and poems. The theme of the event was vulnerability.

Students and community members who attended purchased tickets to enter that went towards Orphan Relief’s next project to improve the lives of orphans. The artwork was displayed throughout the room while live classical performances were playing. Attendees had the chance to vote for their favorite artwork and purchase artwork, with the proceeds going towards Orphan Relief.

Zienab Fahs, a member of Orphan Relief, spoke first and introduced the organization as a non-profit organization that puts their greatest effort in bettering the lives of orphans across the globe. She began the poetry session by speaking about her own experiences of losing her father and brother. The first piece was a personal memoir from her senior year in high school, discussing her vulnerable side dealing with the passing of her brother and father.

They passed away when she was young, but she wrote about it in high school because she developed a greater sense of understanding. She explained the story of how her father had a heart attack while mowing the lawn and died instantly. She described her feelings as she heard the news: panic, confusion, disbelief. She then described the story of how she found out her brother passed away. Her mother told her, while she was in utter disbelief again.

The second poem was her displaying her anger at the world throughout the end of her depression, which according to her, is when she realized that there’s no reason to stay upset for long.
“What’s the purpose of life if every day feels like performed Hell?,” she asked in the first line of the poem. “I came to the realization that darkness was the safest place to be in because it not only meant I could delete everyone else from my display, but that everyone else would be able to delete the sight of me,” Fahs said.

The next poet was Hassan Ghamlouch, an 18-year-old student at Fordson High School. His first poem, called Resurrection, spoke about his father’s death in an explosion in Lebanon in 2013.
“It’s called resurrection because my father had a lot of struggles and he didn’t have the platform to speak about them. It reflects the relationship we had and through the construction of the poem, I resurrect his struggles,” Ghamlouch said.

“My heart was a deep trench in which darkness resided in,” he said. “Death cuts deep, but light is found even in the deepest of caves,” he said. He described that his father’s death triggered the emotion in him saying, “He’s the bleeding ink in my heart.”

The second poem was about his mother because it showed the importance of his mother in his life and that if he didn’t have his mother, the path to his success is no longer there.
“Love has always been the best shelter, and her arms were my safe haven,” he said. “Her wrinkles tell stories that her heart cannot,” he said. “Her smile creates light despite all the darkness of this world.”

The third one was titled “Tears of Palestinian Children.” He described the poem saying, “It hits home because we are wheelchair revolutionists; we sit from over here and write about what’s going on. Power. Ammunition. Greed,” he said. “Palestine is a country that has more gravestones than homes.”

The next poet was Manal Makki, a 19-year-old student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“The element of vulnerability in this poem comes from the situation in which I wrote this poem,” said Makki. She said that it came to her attention that she could write a poem for the event the day before. According to her, it typically takes weeks to write and edit a poem, but this one was unfiltered and raw. Her poem was titled, “At the Edge of the World.”

“I sat at the edge of the world and watched as fragments of humanity were shattered away,” she said. “The world wounded and brimming with pain, scar upon scar dripping blood amidst its terrain,” she recited.

Fahs went up next to describe why they chose the theme of vulnerability.

“One thing that binds us all as humans, whether we are American, Lebanese, African, an orphan, is that we’re all vulnerable at some point. We are all suffering to reach that beautiful point in our lives where we can overcome that and share that with others,” she said. Fahs explained that the orphans they are trying to help are not far away; they’re just like us.

“Everyone has vulnerabilities and we think they’re weaknesses, but they bring us together,” said Fatima Ghandour, an attendee. “Events like these are important because the community recognizes young people’s talents and it’s important to recognize different forms of expression,” attendee Malak Nasser said. “Artwork is one of the best ways to express these emotions, and the theme of vulnerability is something that humanity shares and experiences together.”