Refugee girls film their own stories in Zaatari camp

by Marah Al-Khatib / Liz Mermin | @vlr_crd | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Marah Al-Khatib fled Syria four years ago, when she was 13 years old. She has since been living in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.    

Entrance into and exit from the camp is tightly controlled, but Al-Khatib and a small group of friends are allowed out to attend photography and filming workshops with the Another Kind of Girl Collective, an arts project for girls affected by displacement.   

The experience has been transformative. “If I weren’t at the camp, I would not have achieved anything, nothing,” Al-Khatib told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.   

Another Kind of Girl started in 2014, working with teenage girls in Zaatari. It was the brainchild of a young American filmmaker Laura Doggett. 

Supported by UNAOC, the AL Mailman Foundation, and FilmAid, Doggett and co-facilitator Tasneem Toghoj brought cameras into the camps to teach the girls how to express themselves and tell their own stories The girls took the cameras and documented life in Zaatari as they saw it: a hard place, but one full of humanity and beauty.  

This short documentary combines Al-Khatib’s original filming and narration with interviews with the girls during a recent photography workshop. The girls explain how the cameras have made them feel empowered.  

“Photography made me want to learn everything - English, computer courses, anything that can benefit me later,” said Al-Khatib, who wants to be a lawyer.