Illuminating Youth Photography In the Negev

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Goldin Global Fellow

This month at A New Dawn in the Negev, we have continued our partnership with HP Indigo by offering a mobile photography workshop to teenagers. This four-month training started in June 2020, at the height of Covid-19, and we have now been able to start exhibiting the photographs taken by students. This month, on April 7th, we held an opening ceremony of the exhibition —prior to the blessed month of Ramadan. The theme of the exhibition is “The Role of Religion in Life”.

Rahat

The training involved 25 youth participating in online classes where they learned the fundamentals of mobile photography using their camera phones. The project “Tsi-Zoom”, which is the Hebrew way of saying “photographed through Zoom”, did not only engage youth in learning photography skills, but also encouraged reflections, dialogue, freedom of expression and storytelling through powerful and inspiring photographs that were captured by the students.

“I am 20 years old, and I live in Rahat with my father, mother, and four siblings. Today I am taking a course in photography. My hobby is making and designing infographics. I joined the photography workshop to improve my skills. I realized that it requires constant practice. Today after this workshop, I am now taking very beautiful pictures.” —Shirin Abu-Hany

Another participant stated that: “When I started taking pictures of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, I felt as if I had captured it with my heart, and so I wanted to document it in order that the moment wouldn’t be forgotten. My submission here is of my aunt. She drew my attention to the wrinkles in her hands, and the henna decorating the cuffs of her wrists, which symbolizes joy. She brought henna to share her joy with her God. As for her bracelets, I felt for a moment that they adorned my soul.''

The trainer from HP Indigo, Shahar Gerber, had the following to share from his experience with the students during the workshop:

“When ‘A New Dawn’ offered for me to teach the "photography on a smartphone" course for the youth of the city of Rahat, I said to myself — Allah, this is a challenge! There is language, cultural and environmental differences here. I was worried if I would be accepted by the youth. But after meeting them, they expressed great interest and cooperated fully. It was also a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my Arabic language. From session to session, I saw how the quality of the photographs improved. I feel that I may have brought up 11 new photographers to compete in the creative industry. I enjoyed every moment. I am sure they will succeed, and photography will be a tool for them later on.” — Shahar Gerber

Our organization, A New Dawn in the Negev, firmly believes in the power of productive activities. We believe that doing things through mediums like photography, can help people see the beauty around them. We hope that this project will empower youth and students to stay active, produce better photographs, and build up more meaningful and useful connections in their lives. Sharing creations is the best form of social activity, because it incorporates the act of doing good whilst using one’s talent and passion. Projects like Tsi-Zoomopen new doors to youth despite the challenges experienced, especially during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Every child and teen deserves hope, and the best way of giving them this hope is to inspire them to determine their own future.

Last year, the Covid-19 situation negatively impacted our team, activities and plans. As the situation gets better, following the introduction of vaccine, we are hopeful about starting to renew some of our capacity building programs with young people.

More photographs can be viewed in this project’s photo album.

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