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When a picture really can be worth a thousand words...

Tabitha Ross highlights a photo-blogging project that gives traumatised young people a chance to rebuild their confidence – just one of the many ways funds raised by Christian Aid’s Syria Appeal is helping victims of the four-year conflict.

Cityscape in Beirut

Lamiss took this image of her sister. ‘I felt it captures her looking at something.’

Fourteen-year-old Stephanie is clever, responsible and talented. Emotion is near the surface though; it doesn’t take much for tears to spring to her eyes.

Stephanie has lived through a lot. She spent a year sleeping in a cave, dug by her family on their farm in Syria, in order to shelter from the bombs. She nearly lost her mother and baby sister due to the war. And she has been forced to flee her country and live as a refugee in neighbouring Lebanon, where she has missed out on nine months of school.

Stephanie's sister Peace

A polaroid of Stephanie Stephanie (left) says this picture of baby sister Peace is her favourite. Stephanie’s mum nearly died giving birth to her while they were still in Syria.

All of these experiences are things that she is being encouraged to express through the medium of photography, in a project run by Lebanese organisation Mouvement Social and supported by Christian Aid.

The project, based in Beirut, gives cameras, photography training, mentoring and psychosocial support to a group of young Syrian refugees and local Lebanese young people. Its aim is to enable children who have been through traumatic experiences to be able to talk about them, to build confidence in themselves and trust in others.

A series of workshops teaches photographic skills, while also encouraging the children to explore areas of their life in the pictures they
take. A session on portraiture, for example, is accompanied by the homework ‘take pictures of people you love’. In the next session, this is followed up by an exercise in which the children make collages of the people they photographed, with themselves in the centre. Through this they are encouraged to think about the networks surrounding them, which are there supporting them.

Interestingly, friends and teachers at the Mouvement Social centre figured as prominently as family, a testament to how meaningful and important this support base is to the young people.

The project, which is part of Christian Aid’s broader work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, also enables these young people to communicate
their experiences to the world: their online photo diaries give a unique insight into what it’s like to be a young Syrian refugee.

The young people themselves chose the name ‘Beirut Friends: Our Life in Photos’, and are loving taking and talking about the pictures, and seeing them appear online.

You can see how the world looks through their eyes by looking at the blog.

The situation in Syria

More than 3.8 million people have become refugees as a result of the civil war in Syria. Since the start of the conflict four years ago, more than 200,000 people have been killed and 7.6 million displaced within Syria.

Our partners are running psychosocial support with hundreds of children, providing essentials such as food to families, and giving specialist support to refugees with disabilities. So far, more than £2m has been donated to our Syria Crisis Appeal.

The #withSyria coalition, of which Christian Aid is a member, has launched a global petition calling on world leaders to do more  to end the suffering of the Syrian people. You can sign the petition at withsyria.com


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