Donate ▸

Fadi's story: A camera offers new perspective

Lebanon, Syria, September 12, 2013

Share this story:
  • tumblr
  • pinterest
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Fadi Kaheel and his family originally sought refuge in Lebanon for just a few days in order to escape bombing near their home in Syria. But when they returned to their village and realized the violence had gotten much worse, they turned back to Lebanon for the foreseeable future. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    “When I first arrived in Lebanon I felt so alone,” said Fadi. His new life was considerably different than his comfortable life in Syria, and he missed his friends from home. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    He heard about Mercy Corps’ Moving Forward photography workshop through his aunt and sister, and decided to participate. “I was so excited because I was going to learn something new,” said Fadi. Photo: Fadi Kaheel
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    Nature was one of five topics Fadi chose to photograph as part of the workshop. His other subjects were cars, food and cuisine, ruins and different types of labor and professions. Photo: Fadi Kaheel
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    To get photographs for the topic of labor and professions, Fadi introduced himself to different shop owners in the area. He said he would explain that he was participating in photography training and ask permission to take photos for one of his assignments. Photo: Fadi Kaheel
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    By connecting with others he learned about Lebanon and started to feel like part of the community. “Sometimes we need to look at different communities and see them and experience them,” said Fadi. Now, with a better understanding of his host community, he is happier in his new home. Photo: Fadi Kaheel
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    Fadi said one of the most important things he learned is how to collaborate and work with others. Although he preferred to work alone, his instructor challenged Fadi to try working with a group instead. “When I joined a group, I discovered when people work together they can do different things,” he said. Photo: Fadi Kaheel
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    Fadi originally fought with the Lebanese kids in his class because they didn’t understand each other. His instructor taught him how to be calm and better handle the conflict, and by the end of the workshop they had all become friends. Photo: Fadi Kaheel
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Fadi Kaheel  </span>
    Now that he has completed the workshop, Fadi wants to photograph his family events. And he might teach other kids what he has learned. “I think it would be a good thing to give my knowledge to younger people,” he said. Photo: Fadi Kaheel

Fadi Kaheel, 11, is one of many Syrian refugee children who participated in a recent photography workshop in Lebanon, part of our Moving Forward program there.

The goal is to help young Syrian refugees — most of whom feel scared and isolated — integrate into their new community and develop self-esteem, teamwork and coping skills by participating with Lebanese kids in sports, support groups, and creative projects like theater, filmmaking and photojournalism.

During the photography workshops in particular, the youth learn not only the basics of capturing an image, but take an active role in their new lives in Lebanon. Through learning, engaging with their peers and documenting their surroundings, the children learn that each new day can be meaningful even as they wait to go home again.

For Fadi, the photography workshop also meant making new friends and gaining a deeper understanding of his host community in Lebanon. In the images above, you can read more about his story and see some of his photographs from the workshop.

SEE MORE: Journal of a Young Refugee created by the kids in the workshop ▸

As more refugees continue fleeing the escalating violence in Syria, Mercy Corps teams in Lebanon are expanding these programs to new communities. Learn more about how we're protecting Syria's children ▸