The Arsenal Foundation, alongside its club partner Save the Children, has launched a new project to mark 10 years since the beginning of the war in Syria.
The initiative has been fronted by Arsenal FC full-back Hector Bellerin and photographer Pixie Levinson and has documented the lives of children and young people who have become refugees, forced not the Za'atari camp in Jordan.
The project saw cameras given to the children so that they were able to tell their story from their own perspective and through the lens of their camera, showcasing the resilience and creativity of children, even in the most difficult of circumstances they find themselves in.
A Coaching for Life programme was offered to those in the camps by the Arsenal and Save the Children, to support young people affected by war through football sessions in the cup since 2018, which have since had to stop due to the camp being in lockdown.
Instead, the young refugees have been given the opportunity to tell a story through pictures and images, highlighting the realities of their lives in the Za'atari camp and how Save the Children and Arsenal have aided their mental health and offered hope to a long and successful future.
Bellerin and Levinson have since collected their favourite photographs from the children to signify 10 years since the war in Syria began on March 15, 2011.
Sometimes as humans it’s really hard to communicate the feelings we have inside and it’s easier to express them in a creative way,” said Bellerin.
“Photography was something that took me away when I couldn’t play football in the first few months of lockdown and I think it helps us open up and connect with people in a different way. It’s inspiring to have these young people as part of the Arsenal family and to read their stories. I am so proud that we can continue to support them.”
Levinson added: “Photography has always given me an outlet to express myself – in good times and bad. Photos capture a moment, but what the children in Za’atari have managed to capture goes much deeper. Their photos tell so many stories - losing loved ones, leaving their beloved homes, treacherous journeys and years of living in a refugee camp.
“The strength and power these children have exuded through the camera lens is awe-inspiring. It’s been an honour to work on this photography project and give them the chance to share their stories with the world.”
The Coaching for Life project has been able to continue throughout the lockdown, albeit differently, with modules being delivered virtually.
Za’atari is one of the largest refugee camps in the world and holds nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees and more than half of its population are children.
Author: Jake Wilkin