Nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees – 57 percent of whom are children – live at the Za’atari camp, which is located in the Jordanian desert. The UEFA Foundation for Children, in collaboration with UNHCR and the Asian Football Development Project, is helping children and young people through sports activities, in particular football, to allow them to play and remain children in a situation of war.
This exhibition draws a parallel between three different aspects of children’s lives at the Za’atari camp.
Children at the camp have had the opportunity to show, through their eyes, how life goes on despite the particular context in which they are living. In partnership with a local NGO, these youngsters have benefited from training as photographers, and the UEFA foundation provided cameras to allow them to realise their own exhibition and promote it beyond the borders of the Za’atari camp. The aspiring photographers were very motivated to take part in this project. Using professional cameras was a massive experience for them.
Pascale Cholette, a French photographer who works for the Metasud and Future Learning agencies, felt the great contrast between her freedom and the refugees, who are captive behind fences. Captive herself as a result of her European vision and Western culture, she decided to use the lights of the desert to isolate the youngsters from reality, and to just simply focus on what they are – children.
Rawan Risheq, the Jordanian photographer, had a fascinating experience. She was granted access into mosques and homes, and visits to youth centres and playgrounds enabled her to understand how a refugee’s life is organised, and how the Syrians have adjusted after years in the camp. Many children were happy to be photographed. However, some would barely smile – they seemed like grown adults in children’s bodies. Rawan came across a great deal of talent and so many powerful expressions which held stories of survival within them.