‘We’ve been thinking about being involved in the GCC for a while, but it took some time to plan,’ explains Soha Ellaithy of Save the Children Dubai. ‘Many of our partners are multinational companies, and there are so many opportunities for [support] and collaboration in Dubai.’
The charity’s ‘Stories of Hope’ photo exhibition, unveiled on October 2 at the DIFC Atrium, is the organisation’s regional launch and the first of many projects that aim to raise awareness of the plight of children in the Middle East and beyond. The exhibition showcases a series of photos that illustrate the work that Save the Children does around the world, focusing on the Middle Eastern region. ‘There are a lot of children suffering in the world, and one of the main [and most effective] things we do to help them is to raise awareness about what kind of issues they’re facing,’ she says.
‘We thought an exhibition was the best way to do this: a picture paints a thousand words.’ With this in mind, Soha took the time to talk us through some of the striking images. ‘Stories of Hope’ continues at DIFC Atrium until October 15. www.savechildren.org
Ali in Iraq ‘Children are left traumatised [by war and disaster], so we set up what we call “child-friendly spaces”. These contain plenty of toys and are staffed by volunteers and social workers – the children just play, colour, sing songs and become children again. This photo is of six-year-old Ali at a child-friendly centre set up in his school in south Iraq. Many of the children who come here have lost everything during the war. There is a lot of mental suffering and this has become an oasis in an otherwise bleak environment.’ Photo: Luca Kleve-Ruud
Micheka in Haiti ‘Micheka, aged 11, lives in a makeshift tent with 13 others in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which was hit by an earthquake in January 2010. She attends one of Save the Children’s child-friendly spaces with many of the other children at the camp. This gives their parents time to re-establish their lives. Whatever the disaster, the effect is the same on the child – the child is traumatised and they need somewhere to let out and get over all the negative things that have happened to them.’ Photo: Louise Dyring
Najiba in Afghanistan ‘Najiba, 29, and her child come from a village in the Bamyan province in Afghanistan. They attend a health session organised by Save the Children, where women learn better ways of cooking healthy food and taking care of their children to avoid malnutrition. We aim to raise awareness among mothers about the basics of nutrition, hygiene and health practices, and how to use cheap, locally available produce to supplement their children’s diet.’ Photo: Mats Lingel
Hariram in Nepal ‘Research has shown that the first two years of life are crucial to a child’s development, and can really make or break them. In most poor countries, children don’t go to school until the age of about seven. Until then, they’re just out on the streets picking up bad habits. Can you imagine how difficult it is for a seven-year-old child to sit in a classroom and learn? We work with communities to help the children develop by setting up Early Childhood Development Centres: Hariram, shown in this photo, has been an ECDC instructor for seven years in his village in Nepal. It teaches the children a lot – one mother told me she can’t believe her four-year-old daughter brushes her teeth and dresses herself, and she can speak better than her mother does.’ Photo: Brent Stirton