Each city has a spot that strikes, inspiring adoration and awe.
Researching refugee studies usually means going to the field and hearing the stories of those fleeing conflict first hand, experiences that have lead to a hardening when visiting museums or galleries that ‘provide the experience of being a refugee’.
In reality, the tragedy is devastating to the point that any attempt to replicate would – and often is – futile.
But in the the small space afforded, HH provided an experience that came as close to the awfulness as would be possible from afar.
In addition to the museum, HH holds regular exhibitions – this month focusing on the Arab Spring.
But in true HH fashion, the approach is unique: Stories of Change: Beyond the ‘Arab Spring’ features exhibits by photographers from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Egypt that transcend the revolutions to look at the daily challenges faced by a range of individuals.
The photographs and shorts address sexual harassment in Egypt (‘Just Stop’ by Eman Helal), drug use in Tunisia (‘Zatla Blues’ by Selim Harbi) and Syrian refugees in Cairo (‘Unwanted, Syrian Refugees in Cairo’ by Virginie Nguyen Hoang).
Zied Ben Romdhane (Tunisia) re-focused on the individual, through the accounts of young people with the condition Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), which affects the skin-cells ability to repair damage done by UV light.
While cases of XP in babies worldwide is one in 300,000, in Tunisia the incidence is one in 10,000, while children with XP are 4,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer.
‘Children of the Moon‘ captures the nocturnal activities of the kids, who run under its soft light, while by day attending school and meeting friends after a rigorous process of sunlight avoidance, including gloves and masks.
Fouzia, Houaria and Nassira are seen balancing work, family life and the struggles of being the sole source of income.
The backdrop is luscious, the composition exquisite, but the stories behind the images stay with you even longer.
The challenges facing the those with disabilities persists at all levels of society, despite hopes that the revolution would bring about social change:
Still they found themselves discriminated against by society, frequently denied entrance into universities, or turned away from jobs. On a wider front, women in Egypt, especially in rural areas, continued to face problems ranging from violence and harassment, to inequality in the workplace. [source]
Despite the restrictions, Somaia is studying Spanish in the School of Languages at Ain Shams University, while Heba works in the Alexandria library, while raising her six-year-old daughter.
Balancing motherhood, education and work, the women are seen at rest and the children at play, while the taboos and stigma continue to weigh on the mother’s lives.
The exhibition runs from 20 February 2015 to 31 May 2015; to see more of the exhibition from afar, visit here.
For more on Humanity House and their future activities, visit their site, here.