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Girls In Iraq Learn To Tell Their Stories Through Photography

One program in Ramadi, Iraq, is using visual storytelling as a way to empower students.
Posted at 4:59 PM, Sep 06, 2018

Iraq is starting to rebuild after years of continued violence — and that includes this school in Ramadi, a city once controlled by ISIS

"Ramadi is alive despite all the conditions, all the wars and all the pain. We washed away our pain and we started looking forward to the future, and hopefully this year will go well. The success rate of our school is getting higher, and our students score high grades in the national exams," said Zainab Faisal Ahmed, managing director of Al Rajaa school.

A program at the school is teaching young girls to share their experiences through visual storytelling. The program — created by Canon and the International Committee of the Red Cross — includes a five-day workshop to teach fundamentals of photography. It's intended as a method to help girls cope with trauma.

"I learned from this experience how to take photos. I didn't know how to take photos before. Since I started this experience with the organization, I learned how to take photos, choose the angles and the lights, as the light is main factor of taking photos successfully. I would like to thank the organization for teaching me a lot of things about photography, and I am happy for that," said 17-year-old student Shefaa Abdulla Ahmed. 

The students in the program are between 12 and 18 years old. The photos include a variety of images around the city, including weathered Iraqi flags and rubble. 

Those scenes aren't uncommon for Iraqis to return home to. In September, International Organization for Migration data showed the number of Iraqis displaced is now under 2 million. That's the first time the number has dropped below 2 million since 2014.