Through Our Eyes was born from a request and 39 disposable and color Kodak cameras. The project involved the students of the Photography workshop in Mazí, which ran from December 2018 to August 2019. The photos taken by the young photographers, all minor refugees from the Samos Hotspot, are an essential testimony of the horror that is perpetuated in the refugee camp on the Greek island. It is a collection of firstperson accounts, a clear, disarming and shocking report realized by young adolescents who have been denied a childhood. For the first time, behind the photographic lens, the situation in Samos is revealed not by journalists or photo reporters but by the human beings who are forced to live for months and years in horrid and quickly worsening conditions.
There are long lines to access health care, there are mountains of rubbish, there are fights and protests, there is the life in the “jungle” without water, light and showers. There are children in the mud, there are broken and disgusting bathrooms, there is fear, hunger and suffering. However, our students were able to catch the other side as well. Through Our Eyes shows us what it means to endure the horror, to be able to see beauty, to appreciate the sea, to survive through friendship, family and emotional bonds. It shows the hope they have to find a better Europe rather than the memories of the countries they had to abandon.
Through Our Eyes has begun a worldwide exhibition. Our students’ work is continuously requested to to be featured at exhibitions to make people understand and show them the severity of the situation in Samos. Some international newspapers have reported on the project: The Guardian, Washington Post, The New Yorker, Internazionale, Pùblico, Repubblica e Tpi.
“No one really understands me, no one really understands what living in this camp means – has said one of our students – thanks to this project I have had the chance to tell it and I have done it through photography which is such an important instrument for me. When I had to flee from my country, I had to leave behind my photographic machine. Finding photography in this place has meant a lot to me.”
Photography is part of the educational project of Still I Rise. Students not only learn to use a professional photographic machine but also utilize this universal instrument to communicate with others and to empower themselves and their communities.