PHOTOGRAPHY  GRAPHIC DESIGN

ABDULAZEZ DUKHAN

WE MET ABDULAZEZ IN ATHENS LAST YEAR AND IMMEDIATELY FELT HIS PASSION FOR LIFE AND USING HIS NEWLY HONED SKILLS WITH A CAMERA. AS YOU WILL SEE HE IS USING THEM TO INCREASE AWARENESS of the plight of SYRIAn people, AND THERE IS NO BETTER EXAMPLE OF SOMEONE FIGHTING THROUGH ADVERSITY BY UTILIZING ACCESS TO THE TOOLS OF THE MODERN ERA. 

WE'RE HONORED TO ANNOUNCE THAT ABDULAZEZ WILL BE ONE OF OUR TEACHING-ARTISTS IN OUR REFOCUS REFUGEE MEDIA LAB ON LESVOS, GREECE. WHO BETTER TO TRAIN REFUGEES ON HOW TO PROFESSIONALLY TELL THEIR STORIES AND SURVIVE THIS STRUGGLE THAN SOMEONE ACTIVELY DOING SO. 

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HERE IS HIS STORY...

When the war started, we had no other option but to leave our homes, a decision that was truly difficult to make. After 3 years of war, we left to Turkey and in January 2016, we left to Greece. I found myself in a refugee camp with thousands of people living without knowing what the next day holds for us all.

We faced the cold and hot weathers in tents, waited for food in lines, and watched the time slowly pass by without being able to change the situation. Despite the harsh conditions, hopes and smiles filled the camps. Seeing the way European media presented refugees as hopeless, dangerous and ignorant people was really frustrating and got me thinking of ways to change this image they have of us.

I decided to approach this with my camera lens, taking shots of the smiles and hope that were always present in the camps and never left regardless of the conditions. It was the smiles that I would see on children and adult's faces that truly inspired me to start photography. I felt like that would be the best way to show the real image of the refugees.  

When I first held the camera and decided to start photography, my goal was to break the walls of misunderstanding between refugees and the world. These walls built on misrepresentations in the media, which ended up creating fear and hate and "us" versus "them".

My message to the world is this: People need to understand that before they judge us by color, religion, or ethnicity and label us as refugees, that we are simply humans. We are human beings before being anything else, and labels should not be dividing us. 
 

Everyone in the world was an immigrant or a refugee at some point, the refugee crisis did not begin yesterday and will not end tomorrow. Rather than focusing on the problem, we should all be actively looking for solutions.   

Two months ago, I arrived in Belgium and started studying the language. I'm also hoping to start university soon, and pursue a degree in computer science. I've always dreamed in Syria about being free, being able to learn and continue to grow and develop my skills.
 

I have only been here for a short period of time, and so I still don't know what people think of us, but I hope that people understand that in every population in the world, there are the good people and the bad people.

It's not just the refugee population that has bad people, it's in every society in the world. The media choose to focus on the bad side....Do not blindly follow what they say, go and meet refugees, and then decide which side you want to take.

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today and will show my appreciation by contributing to the society, and working hand in hand with members of the community to further develop the community.

Of course, there is nothing like home and I would love to go back to Syria and rebuild it when things settle down... I miss my home but until then I will continue to strive to create positive change and contribute to the communities I live in.

Written by Abdulazez Dukhan
Instagram: @abdulazez_dukhan