There are 156 students involved so far, ranging in age from 9 to 17 from different parts of the world including Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan. With "Through Our Eyes", Still I Rise becomes a sounding board for the voices of these children who are too often exploited or completely ignored.
Through the eyes and therefore through the photographs taken by the students of Still I Rise, we immerse ourselves in their often desperate daily lives. We see the refugee camps, the war and its dramatic consequences, we understand what it means to be ghettoized in a slum. Yet we also see a little more closely their path of growth, hopes, dreams and courageous struggles for a better tomorrow.
Photography is part of the educational path of our students, the photographic project was conceived and carried out in Samos and Nairobi by Nicoletta Novara, while in northwest Syria it was conducted by Mahmoud Faisal.
The most striking aspect of these images is the fact that the photographers did not focus exclusively on the horrors and injustices suffered in the refugee camp, but looked for beauty in the island. In the shots we see their favorite place to stop and think, the sea, nature, a walk with friends, a picnic taking advantage of the shade of a tree to escape the heat, a girl riding a scooter. The dark and the light.
All of the photographers were born with a war already in progress or a few years before the war began. This aspect is painfully clear in their shots because a childhood that never was is depicted.
Through the captions written by the photographers themselves, we discover children terrified at the idea of having to live forever in a tent, freezing in winter and suffocating in summer. Children who miss their home, their city, children forced to work, but we also discover the devastating conditions in which the camps for internally displaced persons are.
The shots of Syrian children, when they cannot see hope they see poetry. They wish that the snow falling from the sky will clean their world so loved as difficult to understand.
The slum with its shacks made of sheet metal, unsafe, dark and without running water is still home. A home that can and must improve. But how? Our students, and therefore the photographers who took these shots, are looking ahead. Education will lead to their social redemption, but social redemption is not just about them. In the dreams of our students there is all of Mathare, there is a better life for those who today are called "street children", there are state-of-the-art hospitals where access to care is allowed to all and there is the construction of neighborhoods that no longer look like slums. Neighborhoods where people still help each other and children play in the streets.
The photographic project "Through Our Eyes" soon became a photographic exhibition set up in many Italian cities, but also in Europe and America. The exhibitions are moments of collective reflection, of denunciation of the violation of rights, of the abuses, of the failures that all too often these children and their families suffer.
In November 2020, the first part of the project, the one containing the photographs taken in Samos, became a book published by Bur (Rizzoli). A book that has activated educational paths in many classrooms throughout Italy and that has helped to support the emergency school opened by Still I Rise in north-west Syria.