Operation Zaatari

In February 2018, Lens on Life Project led its second trip to the Zaatari refugee camp, which is located on the Jordan-Syria border. Zaatari is one of the world's largest refugee camps, housing more than 80,000 people displaced by the Syrian civil war. On the ground, we partnered with Questscope, a Jordanian organization that has implemented successful mentoring, education, and emergency aid initiatives for thousands of disadvantaged youth. At Questscope, we led a week-long session where we trained thirty youth on the basics of photography. These youth grasped the key concepts of photography and captured life in Zaatari camp, highlighting their own experiences to share with a global audience. We have led subsequent photography training courses at Questscope, supported by our growing network of volunteer photographers who have supported our programming across the globe.

 

In 2019, we opened a brand new school in Zaatari in cooperation with Questescope. The school is now providing daily photography and computer literacy courses to youth between the ages of 13-20.  Students are taught by Mohamad Khalf, a refugee photographer from Damascus.

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Mohamad Khalf & Helal Klaif
@m.khlaf.ph & @helal_khlef

Mohamad (pictured, right) is a refugee photographer who hails from Damascus, Syria and lives in Za'atari Camp. He worked at a film processing lab and attended polytechnic school before fleeing Syria. As a refugee, he pursued his passion as a photographer, earning multiple certifications and gaining employment as a photography teacher with our partner Questscope. He was the press and media coach at International Medical Corps Mafraq Makani center and a photography coach at the International Relief and Development Organization. His hope is to humanize refugees by changing the negative associations / misconceptions of them through his work.

Helal Klaif (pictured, left) began his career as a photographer like Mohamad while living in Syria. He worked as a photographer in the Elsheikh Center studio in Irbid and then the Kafi Center in Zarqa. In Za’atari camp, he worked as a film maker within the Road Safety Project run by ACTED for 3 years before joining Questscope as a teacher. Helal has an affinity for portrait photography.

“This project initiative by Lens on Life contributes to the most significant thought in a human being: my life has meaning. With meaning there is hope. With hope there is belief. With belief there is action. With action there is change.”

– Dr. Curt Rhodes, Questscope Founder & International Director

“The topic that I was hoping to photograph is real life inside the camp...My goal for the future is to enter college...I also want to become a successful and professional photographer because I love photography.”

— Ru’aa, Student in Zaatari Camp