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07 Atmeh, Syria (January 14, 2013)

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From left to right these four girls are Miriam Boustan (age 10), Rahaf el Saleh (age 10), Sajeda el Khalaf (age 6), and Hala el Khalaf (age 10). They are sitting in a makeshift school at a camp for internally displaced persons, which at the time of my visit held around 11,000 people. The blue hue is cast by the blue tarp that serves as a roof.

The week preceding this picture was not one of the easier ones in my life. I was across the border in southern Turkey, seeking out information on how a freelance photographer on a limited budget could cross into rebel-held Syria as wisely as possible. I was put in touch with two Syrians who would escort me, and I talked with other journalists and humanitarian workers who had spent considerable time across the border and offered helpful instruction. But in the end, the fact was that once across that border, anything was possible, some of it extremely unpleasant and permanent. It made for restless nights and dark dreams, and frequently imagining what facial expression and thoughts I’d have in the event of having to look into a video camera before having my head cut off by a fellow human being.

But back to this picture. In looking at these faces, do you see the beauty? The fragility? The trauma? The dignity? Do you see part of your extended family? Do you see people whose lives are priceless?

Death is real, and the emotions around its prospect can be cripplingly dark. But in kneeling on a gravel floor in front of a wooden school desk, behind which are four amazing and vulnerable lives, in hearing their voices as they tell you their names, in watching their smiles as you smile, and in looking into their eyes as they look into yours...you feel that love, and the emotions around it, has knocked the fear of death down to a rather tiny size, a size so small you might even accidentally step on it as you stand up, walking over to say hello to more of these precious kids.
Copyright
Joel Carillet
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7360x4912 / 15.3MB
Contained in galleries
And Who Is My Neighbor?
From left to right these four girls are Miriam Boustan (age 10), Rahaf el Saleh (age 10), Sajeda el Khalaf (age 6), and Hala el Khalaf (age 10). They are sitting in a makeshift school at a camp for internally displaced persons, which at the time of my visit held around 11,000 people. The blue hue is cast by the blue tarp that serves as a roof.<br />
<br />
The week preceding this picture was not one of the easier ones in my life. I was across the border in southern Turkey, seeking out information on how a freelance photographer on a limited budget could cross into rebel-held Syria as wisely as possible. I was put in touch with two Syrians who would escort me, and I talked with other journalists and humanitarian workers who had spent considerable time across the border and offered helpful instruction. But in the end, the fact was that once across that border, anything was possible, some of it extremely unpleasant and permanent. It made for restless nights and dark dreams, and frequently imagining what facial expression and thoughts I’d have in the event of having to look into a video camera before having my head cut off by a fellow human being.<br />
<br />
But back to this picture. In looking at these faces, do you see the beauty? The fragility? The trauma? The dignity? Do you see part of your extended family? Do you see people whose lives are priceless?<br />
<br />
Death is real, and the emotions around its prospect can be cripplingly dark. But in kneeling on a gravel floor in front of a wooden school desk, behind which are four amazing and vulnerable lives, in hearing their voices as they tell you their names, in watching their smiles as you smile, and in looking into their eyes as they look into yours...you feel that love, and the emotions around it, has knocked the fear of death down to a rather tiny size, a size so small you might even accidentally step on it as you stand up, walking over to say hello to more of these precious kids.