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“Don’t we all treat suffering as a disruption to existence, instead of an inevitable part of it? He wondered what would happen if you could ‘reincorporate your version of reality, of normalcy, to accommodate suffering.’”
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Do You See What I See?

Submitted by on October 11, 2010 – 10:59 am

Refugee children are learning photography through the UNHCR’s “Do You See What I See?” program.

Photographer Brendan Bannon has taught photography classes in refugee camps in Namibia and Yemen, and he has seen the change in his students as they are given a creative outlet and see the fruits of their labor. Surprisingly, the pictures span a wide range of subjects and emotions. Many explore the tragedy that these children have survived, but others focus on their family, siblings, falling in love, and continuing to live their lives.

In the video, Bannon talks about how his students have begun opening up emotionally with their classmates and their families. He tells a story about a student who broke down crying during their class, and instead of teasing or tormenting him, his classmates gathered around him and comforted him. His tears were not a sign of weakness but “an expression of something that they shared either in actuality or in dread.”

In summing up the “Do You See What I See?” project, Bannon once again puts it best. “People have an incredible capacity for renewal and regeneration. This project is about people facing a situation that is seemingly impossible to overcome and then defying expectations by dealing with it in a positive and creative way.” Thanks in part to the “Do You See What I See?” project, these children are learning how to express themselves, celebrate life, and move past their grief.

To learn more about the program and view pictures taken by the classes, check out their Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/unhcr/sets/72157617515012158/with/3343519491/.

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