By Aniek Santema Around 2 million Syrian refugees who fled the war have been stranded in Lebanon and many of them live in harsh circumstances. The following pictures will give a small insight into the lives of Syrian youth and show the world from their perspective, through their eyes. The pictures in this photo essay were taken by Syrian refugee girls in the city of Saida who participated in a workshop where they learned how to use visual methods as a way of self-expression. During the workshop the girls answered questions about themselves and their lives by using photographs and they took photographs about things that are meaningful to them. Here, a selection of six of the pictures is presented, along with the titles that the girls gave to them and a small explanation from my side.
Freedom - Maha (14)
I miss you - Maha (14)
I have the right to childhood - Mariam (15)
I cannot adapt here - Mariam (15)
From my Village - Ayat (15)
I Have the Right to Happiness - Ayat (15)
Freedom - Maha (14)Maha’s father is imprisoned in Syria and she does not know anything about his whereabouts. Maha took this picture to visualize the imprisonment of her father, whom she misses a lot.
I miss you - Maha (14)
I have the right to childhood - Mariam (15)Mariam is Maha’s sister and they are very close. Mariam took this picture and she shows how the childhood is lost for many children when they experience war, flight and exile. But Mariam feels that children do have this right.
I cannot adapt here - Mariam (15)This picture shows the collective shelter where Mariam and Maha live with their family and a few other families. It is an old house where the families are packed together. Each family lives in one room. For Mariam and Maha, this place has little comparison to their home village in Syria, where they had their own house and could walk around and play with their friends. Here, in the old house, it is hard to adapt.
From my Village - Ayat (15)Ayat lives in an unfinished university building, where she shares a room with her 9 brothers and sisters and parents. This shelter houses around a 1000 people, mostly from a community from the same rural area in Syria.
I Have the Right to Happiness - Ayat (15)Whereas Syrian refugees in Lebanon are deprived from many civil rights, Ayat also calls attention to another right: the right to happiness.
Aniek Santema graduated from her master SCA at the VU last year, and wrote her thesis on lived experiences, education and future perspectives of Syrian refugee youths in Lebanon. She is currently working at Edukans, a development organisation for children’s education worldwide.