It’s a common occurrence to browse on a social media site and see “#firstworldproblems.” Along with this hashtag come complaints of not wanting to wake up and go to work, food not being exactly how its partaker would like it and many times how technology is not working properly.
In contrast, this past week, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton embarked on a world tour. Partnered with the U.N. and with the support of the Secretary General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, he is traveling 25,000 miles and photographing in 10 different countries showing the world, in particular the “first world,” what those less fortunate endure on a daily basis.
For his second stop on this 50 day tour, Stanton arrived in Jordan. Most photos taken in this Middle Eastern country were taken in the refugee camp Za’atari. A caption accompanies these photos with the person’s story or a simple phrase that was said. In many cases, nothing rings more true than the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Syrian refugees have come into Jordan and made Za’atari a make-shift home after fleeing their country due to the 2011 civil war outbreak. The Syrian Refugees website stated that the United Nations report from earlier this year declared that Za’atari is the second largest refugee camp in the world, with 80,000 refugees, making it the fourth largest city in Jordan.
Pictures that Stanton has posted while in Jordan show life in the camp, both the hardships and trials, but they also demonstrate that these displaced Syrians are trying to make a new life.
A photo of a man was posted just of his face with a slight smile. Under the photo was his story. He was taken by officers at a checkpoint in Syria and beaten. The only way to end the torture was to say that he murdered eleven soldiers, for which he was cast into prison. This refugee said, “But I never killed any soldiers. I never fought anyone. I’m a good person. I have a very sweet heart,” and still begging for belief in his innocence said, “You believe me when I tell you this, don’t you?”
Another picture is of a mother and a son on a couch and told of the day they decided to leave Syria: the day his brother was murdered.
While pictures of individuals and their stories show the pain, anguish and fear these refugees have been through, Stanton also highlights the good, simplistic things of life: a woman who joked with him for taking so many pictures and a pair of children- one in a wheelbarrow, while the other pushed- trying to get to their grandma’s house.
Through the good and the bad, these photos show just how strong and resilient the human spirit truly is.
– Kori Withers
Sources: Syrian Refugees, Humans of New York, Facebook: Humans of New York