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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ayan Omar

Teenagers capture life in war zones and refugee camps in new photo exhibition

A new photographic exhibition exploring life for teenagers in war zones, refugee camps and marginalised communities will be displayed on October 18.

The global children’s charity Street Child is introducing Fifteen, a series of photos captured by 15-year-olds from Ukraine, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda to celebrate its 15th birthday.

Former model Penny Lancaster and retired TV presenter Nick Hewer alongside Street Child founder Tom Dannatt will be opening the exhibition, which will run from October 18-29 at the OXO Tower, London.

Iryna is one of the teenagers whose photographs of her war-ravaged town in east Ukraine will appear in the exhibition.

The 15-year-old, who lives just 100km from the Russian border, said she has witnessed first-hand the destruction war has caused in her hometown.

Iryna’s school was destroyed during the bombardment, which left her devestated (Street Child)

She said: “Through photos, I am showing what was happening during a difficult time for me.”

“A rocket hit my school. My family and I were in the basement of our house. The house began to shake violently, but I felt neither fear nor any other emotion until the photos of my destroyed school appeared on the network. Then came anger, sadness and devastation...the place where I spent eight years of my life was gone.”

The 15-year-old said the photos show what was a ‘difficult’ time for her (Street Child)

Street Child has been working with local photographers from each country to host workshops with the 15-year-olds as part of the project. Nigerian filmmaker and photographer Nelson Apochi Owoicho, who created the pilot programme, described the project as a “window” into the children’s lives.

Local photographers hosted workshops for the 15-year-olds (Street Child)

He said: “It’s an insight into the delicate balance we hold as humans – the ability to remain positive, to laugh, to feel joyous, and to have that deep sense of community that often exists only during crisis, conflict, and humanitarian disaster.”

“There are young people with talent that are being forgotten because they live amidst the chaos. We act because that one photo, taken by that young child, could change our understanding of who they are and where they live – a place of alignment, recognising that we are all deserving, no matter the circumstances. The photos taken by these incredible young people are a perfect moment in time for us to connect as humans.”

Humanitarian disasters prevent 75 million children from accessing education (Street Child)

There are currently 264 million children globally without access to education, according to the United Nations. Humanitarian emergencies have disrupted the education of 75 million children. Since 2008, Street Child has been working to change this.

A spokesperson for Street Child said: “Fifteen showcases a collection of raw and thought-provoking images captured by teenagers in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda and Ukraine. From active conflict zones and refugee camps to remote and marginalised communities, this exhibition explores what it means to be 15 years old in drastically different contexts.”

“Like these teenagers from around the world, Street Child turns 15 in 2023. And just like them, we are full of energy, growing fast and eager to face the challenges of the future.”

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