2018 - Ongoing
Amman, Jordan; Tripoli, Liban-Nord, Lebanon; Gaziantep, Turkey
“Nobody wants to return to our country but we have to”
Samir Dhaghistani, restaurant owner and one of 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, complained about his living condition under multiple governmental restrictions in Lebanon. His 5 children and wife fled Homs, Syria and refuge to Tripoli, Lebanon in 2014. In December 2018, the family left him and return to Homs after his restaurant shut down by the Lebanese government and couldn’t afford their living only with $100/month from his current job. After 8 years of civil war, 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which around 5 million are refugee outside of the country. In fact, the situation is creating “Lost Generation,” people with poverty, child labor, and early marriage. “Lost Generation: The Forgotten Refugees” is the on-going photo story to show the plight of the lost generation, and the efforts of NGO to do something about it both in Amman, Jordan and Tripoli, Lebanon.
In April 2018, I visited Amman, Jordan to see the glimpse of the generation. In this coverage, I visited an NGO called Homs League Abroad, headquartered in Germany, operates schools for Syrian refugee children. One major issue I found was the cause of uneducated children. In Jordan, refugee children are prohibited from attending a class with local students. Unlike local children goes to school all day, refugee children are relying on classes offered by the cash-strapped NGO only for four hours a day.
In December of the same year, I had another opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Tripoli, Lebanon to witness Syrians who are living absolutely without any support from the government. In fact, Lebanese officials seem to be engaged in a concerted effort to get the refugees to leave, withholding health services, imposing taxes, refusing to allow refugees to work, and imposing a six pm curfew. Also in Lebanon, refugee children are thrown into the local public school where all the curriculum are taught in English. Since they didn’t have an education in English in Syria, many of them left behind the system and withdraw from school to be child labor. Yet despite the demonstrable need, after eight years the funding necessary to operate NGOs like Homs League Abroad has been gradually declining, even though the number of refugees continues to rise. Through my coverage in the Middle East, I strongly felt their discontentment of not given enough support and rise of the lost generation.
“Lost Generation: The Forgotten Refugees” will document the living conditions of these refugee children, while also partnering with organizations to teach photography classes to the young students so they have a chance to express themselves visually. Through publication and exhibition, the goal for the project is keeping public attention on the daily reality of Syrian refugees and to inspire action.