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‘Eye See’ photo project spotlights the views of young earthquake survivors in Pakistan

UNICEF Image: Pakistan: ‘Eye See’ photo project
© UNICEF Pakistan/HQ06-1222/ Zaidi
A boy photographs fellow classmates at a government primary school in Ranja village, located in the Mansehra District of North West Frontier Province.

By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 5 October 2006 – To mark the one-year anniversary of northern Pakistan’s devastating earthquake, UNICEF has launched the ‘Eye See II’ photo project, a special initiative to highlight the unique experiences and needs of children in the quake’s aftermath.

An exhibition of photos from the project opened today at UNICEF's New York headquarters and in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Twenty-one children from areas that were hard-hit by the earthquake attended the Islamabad event. There they met Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf, who toured the exhibit as part of the earthquake anniversary observance.

The children represented more than 160 young people throughout the quake-affected districts of Mansehra and Muzaffarabad who had learned the art of digital photography at a series of workshops organized by UNICEF, with support from the Government of Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority.

‘We want to show the world’

The participating children were all affected by the 7.6-magnitude quake that struck on 8 October 2005, killing about 75,000 people and displacing millions. Equipped with their powerful new tool, the young quake survivors captured images of their changed lives one year after the disaster.

At the Muzaffarabad Government Girls School, the pupils were proud of their contribution.

“Through our pictures, we want to show the world what it’s really like here in Kashmir right now,” said one 13-year-old student. “By taking pictures,” added her classmate, “we can tell people about all our problems, and we have a lot of problems right now.”

UNICEF Image: Pakistan: ‘Eye See’ photo project
© PID/2006/Waheed
Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf, tours the 'Eye See II' exhibit in Islamabad and meets some of the young photographers.

Professionals select images

The four-day Eye See II photography training, which included interactive play activities, presented the children with a unique outlet to share their suffering and communicate their experiences. They were also asked to identify some of their communities’ most urgent needs.

In response, the young photographers asked for homes and schools to be rebuilt, paved roads and easier access to services so that their mothers don’t have to spend time and effort fetching fuel and water. The children’s viewpoints will be shared with the government, which has pledged to incorporate them into reconstruction plans.

The Eye See II project was built on the first Eye See initiative organized shortly after the disaster. That project involved children living in camps for people displaced by the earthquake. This time, the focus was on children’s lives as they returned from the temporary camps to their villages.

In the end, participants in the Eye See II project took more than 30,000 pictures. Of these, 3,000 were short-listed, and professional photographers selected a final group of 35 photos for the exhibition.

© UNICEF/ HQ06-1234/Zubair
Zubair, 8, a participant in the ‘Eye See II’ project for earthquake-affected children in Pakistan, photographs himself in Haji Abad village, located in the Mansehra District of North West Frontier Province.

Trying to recover

“These images are pure,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer John Moore, one of those who offered guidance on the workshop and participated in the selection process. “The children are not coming from a professional background. They’re coming from the very opposite – they’re kids who have suffered a great tragedy.

“They’ve lost family members, they’ve lost friends, they’ve lost their communities in some sense and they’re trying to get them back,” Mr. Moore continued. “You see children who are trying to recover, in a way, what they had before, but in a new environment, which is much different than what they had.”

In addition to the exhibits in New York and Islamabad, the Eye See II exhibition will go on to London, Tokyo and Rome.

© UNICEF New York/2006/Markisz
At the exhibition of children’s photos in New York, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks with Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN.

UNICEF headquarters event

At the New York opening, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman applauded the childrens’ creative efforts. “These photographs depict so much of what these children experienced with their families,” she said. “You can see the beauty of the place, and yet you can still see how shattered the buildings were, and how devastated the whole region was.”

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram, attended the event as well. He expressed his government’s gratitude toward UNICEF for saving countless lives in its rapid emergency response after the 2005 earthquake. “A lot of children in Pakistan will not forget the contribution that UNICEF has made,” he said.

Ms. Veneman also took a moment to thank the Sony Corporation, British Airways and UNICEF National Committees – notably the Italian committee – for working together to bring this remarkable project to life.

Mary De Sousa contributed to this story from Islamabad, and Kun Li contributed reporting from New York.




6 October 2006:
At the exhibition of children’s photos in New York, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman recalls the devastation she witnessed in the quake zone.
 VIDEO  high | low

6 October 2006:
Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, thanks UNICEF for saving countless lives in its rapid emergency response after the 2005 earthquake.
 VIDEO  high | low


4 October 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on UNICEF’s ‘Eye See II’ photo project for children who survived Pakistan’s devastating 2005 earthquake.
 VIDEO high | low

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