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Syrian refugees tell their story with the power of instax, marking 10 years of conflict in Syria

instax supports creative project with children from The Arsenal Foundation and Save the Children’s Coaching For Life programme, empowering young Syrian refugees to show life through their eyes with instant photography


See all high-res images and read more about the children’s stories here

To mark 10 years since the devastating war in Syria began, and one year since the Coronavirus pandemic took hold of the world, an exclusive photography project, run by Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation, has documented the lives of young Syrian refugees living in Za’atari Refugee Camp with the power of instax.

Fronted by renowned photographer Pixie Levinson and Arsenal player Héctor Bellerín - who is also a passionate photographer - the project saw donated instax SQ1 SQUARE cameras given to Syrian refugee children to tell their own stories through the camera lens. The photos taken provide a raw snapshot into the children’s daily lives, with each moment captured instantly and each print acting as a poignant testimony to the resilience and creativity of children - even in the most adverse of circumstances.

Through instant photography, the young refugees were given a platform to tell the stories that are important to them. Pixie and Save the Children developed a toolkit to help the children express themselves through the creative medium - highlighting what life is really like in the camp during lockdown, what they miss from their homes in Syria, how Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation have supported their mental health and their hopes and dreams for the future.

Yara* is 17 years old and fled her home in Syria eight years ago: “I felt lost, unsafe and sad leaving my homeland. I have left everything beautiful behind and I miss my friends and family. The most difficult thing about living in Za’atari is feeling alienated, but football and photography have helped me feel less alone. Coaching for Life has taught me patience and teamwork. I love making decisions as a team - we are one soul. Also, the photography project has allowed me to express myself - the photograph I took of the flower represents my hope for the future, because every time the flower falls it springs up again. One day, I hope to become a journalist to show people the authentic stories behind the news.”

At the end of the project, Héctor and Pixie curated a collection of their favourite instax prints, like Yara’s, to mark ten years since the war in Syria began on 15th March 2011.

Héctor Bellerín said: “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. 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.”

Pixie Levinson said: “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.”

Chris Chater, Senior Business Manager at instax, said: “We are honoured to be able to support the Coaching For Life collaborative photography project with Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation. We’re grateful to be able to provide the young residents of Za’atari refugee camp the opportunity to share their perspectives with the world through instax photography, highlighting the strength of these young people even in the most challenging of circumstances. These powerful instax prints produced by the children provide us with their unique view of the world around them.”

To find out more about this life-changing programme and help build a better future for children, visit https://stories.savethechildren.org.uk/coaching-for-life/

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Notes to editor:

*name changed to protect identity

About instax:

For the past 20 years instax, the instant camera brand from FUJIFILM Corporation, has been creating cameras which instantly produce real film photos in either mini, SQUARE and WIDE formats.

instax has changed the way people all over the world capture moments since its launch in 1998, resulting in over 45 million instant cameras and printers sold to date and the brand becoming the world leader in instant photography. The flagship products include the mini 9, mini 90, mini LiPlay, mini Link, SQUARE SQ6 & SQ20, WIDE 300& SP-3 SHARE printers.

In the UK, Fujifilm has been supplying the imaging, printing and graphics industries, as well as consumers, professional and enthusiast photographers, with high quality, innovative products and services for over 30 years.

About Coaching for Life:

Coaching for Life is a ground-breaking programme, co-created by Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation. Based on robust evidence and combined expertise, it improves the mental and physical health of children living in some of the world’s toughest places. Through bespoke football coaching sessions, girls and boys tackle issues such as managing emotions, decision-making, self-esteem, gender equality and voicing opinions.

The programme has already changed the lives of thousands of children in Jordan - home to millions of Syrian refugees - and in Indonesia’s city slums, where children are at high risk of exploitation and violence.

Together, Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation are standing side by side with children and the goal is clear: give them the tools to rebuild their lives and coach them towards a better future.

Save the Children's Syria Crisis Appeal


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