The pictures from the refugee camps of Jordan tend to show just the crying babies, the ragged tents and handouts stamped with the names of foreign governments and NGOs. What the world doesn't see, is the daily reality of the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees, for whom the camp has been home for more than two years.
Celebrated photographer Michael Christopher Brown, who has become renowned for his camera phone pictures, has given iPhones to girls and boys aged 14 to 18 in the Za'atari camp in Jordan, after spending a week teaching them how to properly shoot and process images.
The results will be posted to an ever growing Tumblr 'Inside Za'atari', in partnership with Save The Children, showing the murals that decorate the walls of the camp, ingenious makeshift water pipes, smiling mothers cooking rice, kids watching Scooby Doo, and a beloved basketball net.
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“When you’re a foreign reporter, you tend to photograph camps like Za'atari in a certain way – from the perspective as an outsider,” said Brown. “So when I was given the opportunity to work with the kids who live here, I asked the group to show me their daily reality – a world that outsiders rarely get to see.”
Samar*, one of the girls involved in the project, said, “This week was a very, very, very, amazing experience. Michael gave us so many useful tips and taught us so many great things.
"For me, ever since I was little my dream was to be a photographer and a very famous photojournalist who gets to go around the world and visit different places. Sometimes when I hold the camera up to take a picture of someone I see things through the lens that can’t be seen in the naked eye- especially people’s emotions.”
“These images remind us that behind all of the numbers, each Syrian child is an individual with a life and a voice – just like any teenager in any country around the world. Empowering these teenagers to tell their stories through their own eyes provides hope to a generation of children whose lives have been turned upside down by a conflict beyond their control," said Saba Mobaslat, Country Director for Save the Children in Jordan.