The Ritsona Kingdom flag has a simple design, but it’s deep with meaning. A blue band at the top represents Greek territory, while a thicker swath of red below represents Turkish territory. Two yellow lines separate and intersect them both, symbolizing those who died on dangerous journeys across the Aegean Sea, as well as those who survived and are still trying, desperately, to reach Europe.
Ritsona isn’t really a kingdom, or a country. It’s a refugee camp in Greece. And this unofficial flag, designed and created by refugee youth, is a perfect example of how young people at Ritsona are taking control of their own stories — and sharing them with the world.
In honor of International Youth Day on Aug. 12, a group of young refugees publicly launched the first two editions of Ritsona Kingdom Journal, a magazine in which they express themselves and share their perspectives through artwork, photography, short essays, poetry, and more. Naturally, the Ritsona Kingdom flag graces the cover of the first issue.
Now, through a “digital exhibit” of the magazine, people across the globe can learn more about Ritsona, hear from the youth who live there, and explore issues surrounding the refugee crisis that are both deeply personal and startlingly universal.
Ritsona Kingdom Journal was produced through Lighthouse Relief Hellas, a nonprofit providing support to especially vulnerable populations of refugees. The young people involved are part of the organization’s Youth Engagement Space (YES), a drop-in program that offers a safe place for people between the ages of 16 and 25 to attend skill-building workshops and start creative projects. What began as an art-focused initiative became a physical space where youth can connect with one another, talk if they want to talk, or just have a dedicated place in the camp to relax and tap into their creativity.
“The magazine is really representative of a day in our…