A photography exhibition opened in Paris on 20 May 2019, showcasing photos taken by Turkish and Syrian adolescents. The exhibition demonstrates the positive impact of access to education social engagement opportunities on the daily lives of young people and on peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities.
Entitled “Dreams of the Future,” the exhibition was inaugurated at the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Paris by Mr. Halis Yunus Ersoz, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Turkey; Mr. Martin Taschner, Head of Southeast Europe and Eastern Neighborhood Unit of the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO); Mr. Jean Marie Dru, President of the French National Committee for UNICEF; and Mr. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey.
Halis Yunus Ersoz, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports declared: “First of all, I would like to thank UNICEF France for hosting such a wonderful event in Paris. I would also like to thank Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s Representative to Turkey, Reza Deghati, the renowned photographer, the EU for their financial support and everyone who has worked on this project. The Ministry of Youth and Sports pays close attention to the integration process of asylum seekers and offers them Turkish language education along with all the advantages of the youth centers and youth camps under the Ministry. Our hope is that the cooperation that has started will be sustained and will have a greater impact in the international arena, spreading more and more amongst youth and multiplying its effect.”
The exhibition reflects the dreams and realities of both Syrian and Turkish youth, through the photos of sixty adolescents who participated in the Youth Lens project. Youth Lens was launched in 2018 and provided photography training to Syrian refugees and Turkish young people from, Gaziantep, Istanbul and Izmir. Over four months, 60 boys and girls aged 11 to 18, were introduced to image storytelling by the renowned photographer Reza Deghati and a team of local trainers.
Martin Taschner of the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations said: “Education in Emergencies is an absolute priority for the European Union. The education projects supported by EU help refugee children to access school, which is a concrete investment in their future. Education is a protective shield against violence, early marriage and sexual exploitation. It makes children feel safe and provides them with opportunities for their future”.
Youth Lens was developed and is implemented under a close partnership between the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Reza and UNICEF with the financial support of the European Union under the Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme. The exhibition “Dreams of the Future” presents a selection of the photographs of the 60-young people participating in the project. The exhibition is an awareness-raising effort to draw the attention of the international public to the daily stories of Syrian and Turkish youth, highlighting the challenges they face as well as their hopes and aspirations for their future.
Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey declared: “Every child has the right to learn, including children who have been uprooted from their homes by armed conflicts. This exhibition gives us a glimpse of how millions of children and adolescents see their current reality and the dreams they have for the future. Education is essential for them to realize their dreams and successfully integrate society. The Youth Lens project is an illustration of this, and I am grateful that the partnership developed between UNICEF, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Reza Visual Academy, with the financial support of the European Union, could produce such an impressive result. Congratulations to all the young photographers for the quality of their work and their constant commitment to the project. “