idea for this project was born in late 2001 after my first visit
to Aida Camp. After seeing for myself the terrible daily hardships
endured there and witnessing the dedication of a some of the
young people in the camp towards improving the lives of the
children in the camp through their newly founded Children’s
Center, I wanted to raise money to help the Center provide opportunities
of both education and recreation for the kids.
the help of friends in Rome a fund-raising lunch was held at
which I spoke about the Camp and Lajee Center. It was here that
I first heard about a children’s photo project done some
years earlier in the slums of South Africa. If only we could
do a similar project for the children of Aida Camp, I thought,
give them lessons in the fundamentals of photography and then
let them take their own pictures. Then they would be able to
show us how they saw their own lives in the Camp; we would be
shown their perspective through the lense of their cameras.
I was tremendously excited about the idea, but I needed a photographer
to put it into practice.
was not until Spring 2005 that I found him. I was by the Wall
in Aida Camp when I saw a young man with lots of photographic
equipment. We started talking. It soon became clear that he
was a professional photographer and deeply involved in the Palestinian
cause, so I told him of my dream to do the children’s
photo project. His answer was immediate, enthusiastic and unconditional,
and so finally the dream was on the way to becoming a reality.
began working with a group of Lajee children, aged between 11
and 19, in August 2005 during our annual International Workcamp.
He had raised funds in the UK to support the project, and with
a bag of cheap cameras, he began teaching the kids some of the
basics of photography.
Each day in the blazing heat the children went around the Camp
photographing people, streets, homes, and every day they looked
at the prints of the photos taken the day before and discussed
their merits. At the end of 2 weeks, they selected a range of
photos from the many they had taken and put up an exhibition
in the Boys’ School where we were staying. The show was
stunning! We were amazed by what we saw – the quality
of the images, views we had looked at before but never really
seen, the talent of the children. Visitors to the show could
not believe that children who had never used cameras before
could produce such high quality works. It was a tremendous success
– for the children, for Rich, for all of us.
The exhibition “Our World” has subsequently been
shown in Palestine, Italy, the UK and the USA. We are very happy
and very proud to offer it to you now in Rome.