Syria crisis: An inspired mind behind a disposable camera

By Farah Sayegh, Save the Children, Jordan

Sitting in a warm tent in Za’atari camp, Jordan, hopelessly trying to fight off flies, I listen to an enthusiastic group of  Syrian boys loudly discussing their latest photography assignment.

As suggestions fly across the room, 17-year-old Rami* takes the lead. His confidence and creativity are clear as he offers ideas for photos to his classmates.

Having barely held a camera back at home in Syria, Rami has been producing impressive photographs after regularly attending Save the Children’s psychosocial support classes. His photos have even been showcased at an exhibition in Amman, Jordan.

Here, Rami has been able to meet children his age who came from the same village.

He has been attending our photography classes every week since the project began in February, completing assignments with intense dedication and making impressive progress.

“His eagerness to learn and the eye he has when it comes to photography makes it such a pleasure teaching him,” says Agnes Montanari, his teacher and a photographer with Save the Children.

Running for safety

Rami fled Syria to Za’atari camp in Jordan nearly five months ago, completely alone, with little more than the clothes on his back.

His older brother had been killed three days earlier, and Rami and his family feared for his life.

For Rami, Za’atari refugee camp is his safe haven. With the help of international organisations working inside the camp, and projects like Save the Children’s photography classes, he has been coping well with his new life.

With a soft smile, he tells me that he is still in contact with his family, that he misses them prays for them to stay safe. He hopes to be reunited with them as soon as possible.

“In one day, your whole life can change, and you never expect how difficult it could get,” Rami tells me. “But when I think of how it would have been if I hadn’t left, I know I probably wouldn’t be alive today, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Hope for the future

Za’atari during sunset, a photo by Rami that was showcased at the exhibition in Amman.

When I ask about his hopes for his future Rami, like almost every refugee, says he wants to return to his homeland. But he also sees a positive side to his experience in the camp – and it has come from our photography lessons.

“I have realised that I have a passion for photography,” he says.

“I dream of becoming a professional photographer when I return to Syria. I have learned to see beautiful things in a refugee camp through my camera, and I wish to show the world the beauty of my country when it’s at peace.”

*Rami’s name has been changed.

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  • Kristen

    “I dream of becoming a professional photographer when I return to Syria. I have learned to see beautiful things in a refugee camp through my camera, and I wish to show the world the beauty of my country when it’s at peace.”

    As a photographer myself, I love this program and this quote in particular. His world is in chaos yet his optimism shines.

    Hope is such a beautiful thing.