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A photo exhibition made up of images taken by child refugees, will open to the public at Birmingham New Street today (Thursday 12 September).
The exhibition has been curated by The Martin James Foundation – a Midlands charity that operates on a global level, helping to improve children’s lives around the world in conjunction with Birmingham-based photographer Kate Green.
In June 2019, The Martin James Foundation invited Kate to visit Za’atari in Jordan – the world’s second largest refugee camp where 80,000 Syrian men, women and children have lived for the last seven years.
Kate and the team of 10 staff including psychosocial, physio, speech and occupational therapists worked with the children. They introduced ways in which cameras and creativity could be used to support their often painful and traumatic therapy sessions.
The workshops took place at the camp’s Hope Centre – a comprehensive rehabilitation centre for children established by The Martin James Foundation in partnership with Arabian Medical Relief (AMR) back in 2015.
The photos taken by the children and Kate will take pride of place in a dedicated exhibition located at Birmingham New Street and will be available for members of the public to view until 18th September 2019.
Named Noor, meaning light in Arabic, the free-to-attend exhibition will give an honest and candid glimpse into life on the camp and the children of Za’atari.
Martin James Cockburn, founder of The Martin James Foundation, says: “Due to the ongoing conflict and destabilisation of the country, millions have fled Syria to find safety from the violence in neighbouring countries such as Jordan. Over 2.3 million people have left Syria and over half of these refugees are children.
“With many of these children having been displaced due to conflict, the Hope Centre plays a crucial role in providing psychological care, which is just as important as caring for immediate physical problems to ensure that children are able to move forward from this difficult start in life.
“Exhibitions like this are a great way of highlighting an issue that may otherwise go unnoticed and we really do hope members of the public will come and show their support.”
Kate Green comments about her involvement in the project: “The language of photography allows us to express ourselves, tell our stories and bridge divides. It is also the perfect medium for us to connect with ourselves, each other and our environment.
“It was my privilege to work with these families and to help the therapists at the Hope
Centre to find new ways to conduct their sessions using creative learning, and to make the
lives of these children just a little better.
“I was humbled by the children’s joy and thirst for life, despite the challenges they face.
When I asked one Mum how she manages in the camp with her son, five year old Muhammed, who has cancer, her response was “I am grateful for what God has given me.” The hardship I witnessed there was immeasurable. If we think Za’atari is an acceptable place to call home, then we need think again.”
The Martin James Foundation is officially launching to the public at the end of September. For more information, please visit martinjames.foundation or kategreenphotog.com
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