An Inspirational Mind behind a Disposable Camera

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Sitting in the warm pre-fabricated tent hopelessly trying to fight off some flies, I listen to an enthusiastic group of young Syrian boys loudly discussing and sharing their thoughts about an exercise they were just given: Explain Photography Techniques. On a white board at the front of the classroom hang some photos on one side and photography concepts like Rule of Thirds, Lighting and more written on the other. After the eager boys were grouped into pairs and answers began to fly across the room, 17 year old Rami takes the lead and volunteers to share his thoughts with the class. His confidence clearly reflects that he’s a bright child.

Rami shared his creative perceptions of taking a good photograph and suggested great ideas for photos to his classmates in the context they were living in, Za'atari camp. Having barely held a camera back home in Syria, Rami has been producing impressive photographs after regularly attending Save the Children's psychosocial support classes offered to children in the camp. In fact, some of his photos were showcased at an exhibition held in Amman, Jordan. 

"He is the best in my class, his eagerness to learn and the eye he has when it comes to photography makes it such a pleasure teaching him," tells me Agnes Montanari his teacher and a photographer with Save the Children.

Rami fled Syria to Zaatari camp in Jordan nearly five months ago taking almost nothing with him but the clothes on his back. By almost nothing I mean completely alone. Just three days after the killing of his older brother, both Rami and his family feared for his life and found it best for him to flee the violence to somewhere safe. For Rami, Za’atari refugee camp is his safe haven. With the help of international organizations on the ground, and projects such as Save the Children’s photography classes he has been managing well to cope with his new life in a refugee camp. With his soft smile he tells me that he is still in contact with his family, that he misses being around them and prays for them to stay safe in hopes of reuniting with them as soon as possible.

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

Here he’s been able to meet families and children his age who came from the same village. He’s been eagerly attending our photography classes every week since the project began in February this year, completing assignments passionately and making impressive progress among his colleagues.

When inquired about his hopes for his future, like every refugee he indeed wants to return to his homeland but young Rami realized that there is a positive side to his experience in the camp and added, “I realized that I have a passion for photography, I dream of becoming a professional photographer when I return to Syria. I 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 in peace.”