Inside Za'atari is a collection of photographs taken by Syrian refugee youth that participated in Lens on Life Project’s November 2018 photography workshop in Za'atari, one of the world's largest refugee camps located on Jordan's border with Syria.

Lens on Life Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports photography and computer literacy training for youth in need around the world. By cooperating with local host organizations, it builds spaces where students can grow artistically and gain skills to enter the global marketplace. In 2019, the organization installed permanent photography courses at Za'atari and will soon open a school led by a Syrian refugee photographer.

How to View

During the day, the installment can be viewed on monitors inside the ICP Museum and during evening hours, images are literally “projected” onto the windows of the ICP Museum; they can be viewed from the sidewalk outside the Museum and are most visible after sunset. Learn more about Projected.

Artist Stories

Select artists from the installation share their experience with Za'atari and photography.

“My name is Usama Rafaat al-Hariri and I am 16 years old. I came to al-Zaatari camp on November 11, 2012 with my family after we lost safety in Syria where I used to live in Daraa the home of safety. When I arrived at age nine, I didn't know what a camp and what adaptation is would be like. I registered in school and started to play soccer for hours until I heard about the photography workshop and because of my interest in it I joined to learn and gain skills and express what is inside me. I learned new things such as portraits, product photography, and how to compose a photo. I wish in the future to make photography my career and to own my own camera to take a photo of everything my eyes see.”

“I came with my family from Syria on November 12, 2018 because of the worsening crisis and growing tension in my country. Also, my eldest brother was due to be drafted to serve in the tyrant’s military and we were worried about him. When we arrived to al-Zaatari camp we started to adapt to the new situation gradually and started to join many helpful courses. I was so happy about this course because my dream when I grow older is to be a professional and smart photographer.”

“My name is Bashar Mohammed al-Natoor. I am 14 years old. We came, with my family, to al-Zaatari camp from Syria on June 11, 2013 when we lost hope and safety in Syria and were displaced to al-Zaatari camp. After some time in the camp my father took me to join school and I started to study, and I started to get used to the camp. Then I started to join workshops in painting, soccer, and photography. I like photography and learned lots of serious skills and now I want to become a photographer.”

“My name is Bilal Yusuf al-Hariri. I am 16 years old. I came with my family to al-Zaatari camp on May 3, 2013 escaping missile bombardment in Syria. I arrived to al-Zaatari camp when I was nine years old and I joined school at second grade. My hobby is soccer. After several years, my friends and I joined this photography workshop because I wanted to express my feelings. I wish one day to have my own camera to take a photo of everything my eyes see, and I also wish to become a soccer player like Cristiano Ronaldo and Messe.”


Image: © Usama Rafaat al-Hariri