The Kawergosk children’s photo workshop

Country : Irak

Tags : Kurdistan, Refugees, Photography, Reza

Because he believes in “the importance of the alphabet of the image”, the French-Iranian photographer Reza, special correspondent for ARTE Reportage at the Kawergosk camp, brought books and about fifteen cameras to introduce photography to a group of young people from 12 to 15 years of age so that they could share about their daily lives through photography. Read this column by Reza about one of his students, then discover work by Maya, Amar, Najat … and by all of the others.

"She stands there in front of the tent. It requires patience and a silent presence. She has heard the news. On the second day of the photography course, I notice her. It’s her first time there. She observes and listens to our small group of 10 young students from afar. For two days, Maya Rostam, 12-years-old, does not leave us. It is the end of the day when the cold night falls on the camp and everyone disperses to their semblance of a home, in a tent, huddled against one another. 

At the end of the second day, I approached her and asked about her constant presence. She tells me about the sounds of war, the long, grueling road of exodus, the scolding sun that beats down upon the survivors and the fatigue of the flight. 

And since then, her life in the camp, with its rows of tents, and the occasional lull that makes them believe there is still the possibility of a new life. The days pass, and then months. An immense feeling of boredom invades her every day, the feeling of not living a real life, but a life of survival. I ask her why she is present and her answer reminds me of a child in Tabirz whom I photographed. Maya Rostam said: "I want to learn photography because I believe that with it, everyone can see what I feel and how we live."

So, I went to buy other cameras to expand the class, since, like Maya, other children follow us with the same enthusiasm. By the evening, she left with a camera. Her mission? To photograph at night. I added that I would like to see these photographs and if they are good, she could join the course. Maya clenched the camera like a treasure and ran into the night amid the rows of tents before even fully learning how to use it. But the next morning, Maya is not there. I am concerned and inquire about her absence, but no one knows which tent is hers. I remain confident. The course begins. Maya appears and advances timidly. She is embarrassed, terribly embarrassed. 

I asked her about the delay. She said nothing and lowered her head. I am busy with other students, but I repeat the question: “Why are you late?” Without a word, she extends her camera out towards me to show me this image. She adds in an almost inaudible voice: “My shoes were frozen; I had to wait to put them on. ”I have never been so deeply touched by the symbolic power of an image. Today, Maya Rostam a 12-year-old, Syrian refugee in the Kawargosk camp in Iraq is one of the best students. She is becoming a visual narrator of her own story."

Reza - December 2013





Last modification the 8 December 2016