Islamic Relief USA participated in “Life in Refuge” an event at Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C., organized by CARE and with other NGO partners including, Save the Children,Syria Relief & Development, Syrian American Medical Society, OXFAM and the #withSyria campaign.
Life in Refuge uses art and visuals to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Syria by focusing on its impact on refugees, specifically women and children, on an individual level. One such display was developed by Islamic Relief USA, titled, “Scars & Smiles: Face & Stories of Syrian Refugee Children,” with photography from the field by Ridwan Adhami and a storyline written by Nada Shawish.
In 2012, Islamic Relief USA sent Ridwan and Nada to capture the experience of the refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. The resulting photography and experiences from this visit tell a profound story that moved attendees of the exhibit. For Scars & Smiles creator and Islamic Relief USA Creative Director Ridwan, the point of the larger Scars & Smiles project is to show the human side of conflicts around the world through the intimate details of individuals who have been forced to live through them.
“Seeing these images, kids and families, really breaks your heart,” said one Life in Refuge attendee Heba Ismail. “It’s not just numbers anymore. It brings a soul, a person, a name to the Syrian conflict.”
The photographs and the narrative were extremely moving for another attendee Zeina Alkhalaf who remarked how the photography showed the pain and the hope each refugee had.
“The most powerful thing that stood out was the name tags that said, ‘name withheld,’ from them,” she said. “How powerful is it to not even be able to say your name because of how terrified you are of what could happen to you because of it. It’s an extremely powerful thing.”