The Children of Refugee Camps Explore Their Identities Through a Photography Initiative
Through a unique program, Syrian and Jordanian children are given a creative voice through classes on photography
Photo: Aya. All photos courtesy of UNICEF, Jordan Country Office, and Miraj Pradhan
Even while dealing with extremely stressful lifestyles, young Jordanian and Syrian refugees are capturing the preciousness of each day through their cameras. UNICEF and the European Union joined forces last year to create photography lessons for kids in refugee camps in Amman, Zarqa, and Mafraq. Through the classes, the children explore their creativity and see their surroundings through a different point of view.
In this sense, street photography takes on a totally different meaning and significance. The project is called A Day in the Life, and it offers young people the chance to reflect on their daily lives and personal stories. 25 children took a selection of photographs and later their work was displayed as a photobook at the European Union Headquarters in Brussels, as well as in Jordan.
In 2016, the project was renewed on a much grander scale: 500 students, 50 schools, and 25 local photographers. Working alongside Children’s Museum Jordan, UNICEF and the European Union were once again able to bring photography to a new class of young people.
“In Jordan, UNICEF is using photography, art, music and theatre as a first level of psychosocial support for Syrian children and youth,” Miraj Pradhan, Head of Communication for the UNICEF Jordan Country Office, tells The Creators Project. “But more and more, it is also proving to be a great social cohesion tool, providing opportunities for Jordanian and Syrian kids to work together and learn about each other.”
In Pradhan’s view, photography can serve as a “very powerful medium to reach children and youth in stressful situation.” During his experience with this project, he found that the students were eager to learn and find a creative outlet. About a month ago, Pradhan attended a training sessions organized for a group of Syrian refugee teenage boys. They were extremely engaged and ready to learn.
“It was a Saturday, and the training was supposed to start at 10:00 PM but the boys were all waiting for us at 9:30 when we arrived,” wrote Pradhan. “For three hours, the trainer shared photography techniques, angles, frames, action shots etc. followed by practicing with cameras. Throughout the three-hour session, every boy hung on to every word of the trainer—can you imagine any other class having that sort of effect on a group of teenage boys? Such is the power of photography.”
In a video from the 2015 project, a young photographer named Aya shares why she took some of her photos: “I took this picture to show the people that we don’t give up the hope. That all the people will leave the camp and try to develop themselves.”
“It provides them a sense of freedom and purpose, of having a chance to capture and share their pictures, and in a way, ...a bit about their hopes and dreams,” wrote Pradhan. “I think they begin to feel that their lives still matter to other people, and they have not been forgotten.”