UNICEF organized photoworkshop for war-affected children in Gori
“I took a photo of the sky which brings hope in the hearts of people”21 November. 2008. TBILISI. A five-day workshop about the basics of photography was held for 22 Children of age 10–17 in Gori, the town near the conflict zone that was heavily bombarded during the recent conflict in and around South Ossetia, Georgia. The seminar was organized by UNICEF, the local NGO Biliki and was facilitated by the UNICEF photographer Giacomo Pirozzi.
The seminar involved children from Gori and nearby villages affected by the conflict. Some of the children were IDPs whose houses were burnt and destroyed and some of them even lost their close relatives during the shelling. The workshop aimed at equipping the children with basic skills in photography as well as helped them to recover from trauma and stress the children went through during the conflict.
During the first two days of the training children learned about the basics of photography and they were given real Canon cameras from UNICEF. During the third day children went to make photos by themselves. The children visited IDP collective centres, schools and villages heavily damaged during the hostilities. Many of them were holidng cameras for the first time and they were so happy that from now on they were able to document the most interesting moments of their life.
“I have been waiting for this for two days,” said 13 years old Teona Menabdishvili from Gori. “And now I can finally take photos. We went to the kindergarten housing IDPs. As I spoke with them, I realized that I didn’t really understand what they went through. I saw their eyes and faces that radiated hope. Most of them had no houses. They were assuring us that everything would be alright. Houses around are rebuilt and this somehow buries the unfortunate traces of the war but they can’t be deleted from poor people’s hearts. Taking these photos and looking at this destroyed area breaks our hearts”.
“My photos show how people live after the war and what they feel and what they worry about”, said 11 years old Omari Baliashvili from Gori. “I’ve been through the war and I thought Gori stopped existence. I saw them destroying and burning Gori on TV. I though I would never be able to go back home. But the burnt houses were reconstructed and some of the families even returned to their houses.”
“I took photos of destroyed and burnt houses”, said 13 years old Lika Kasradze who joined the workshop with her brother Vasiko. “This made me feel very sad. My house in the village Ergneti was burnt too and it breaks my heart. I am also sad because I can’t go back to my village, where I spent all my childhood, which was burnt with my house as well. I left my memories and lots of favourite toys in the house.”
“We went to the public school #10 to see two IDP children,” said Ilia Khubuluri “At first the children were reluctant but then we explained everything and they let us take their photos. The children reacted even at the slightest noises. Some children had psychological problems and others were physically injured as a result of the war.”
“Then we visited our friend Dato.” continued Ilia, “Dato’s brother and grandma died as a result of this war. Then we met a child who were deeply sad because his parents died. We took a photo of the burnt school #7, houses without windows, house being reconstructed, old woman who survived the war by accident. She said that she was saved by Virgin Mary. She showed us the verses she wrote.”
“Smile and happiness will fill the air once the IDPs return to their homes and everybody will be happy living in the prosperous country,” dreams Nino Vardzelashvili, “When I was taking photos of each and every destroyed house, I couldn’t help wondering where the owners of the houses were living. I wanted to find them and tell them to never loose hope as everything would be alright very soon.”
The photos children took as a result of the workshop were amazing and fantastic. The next step will be the exhibition of the children’s photos that UNICEF will be organizing earlier next year.
“I would like to thank UNICEF for giving me a possibility to participate in this great seminar,” said 15 years old Tamo. “I am very much interested in photography and this was my first step in this field. I will never forget you. You made my dream come true – I have a camera now. Thank you so much.”
For further information, please contact:
Maya Kurtsikidze, Communication Officer, UNICEF Georgia