In Al Baqa’a, Jordan’s oldest refugee camp, a group of 20 children meet at the local women’s centre. The boys speak animatedly as they stand in a large circle, while the 10 girls sit in groups of twos and threes, their bursts of laughter filling the air. Bustling back and forth between the different girls is 11-year-old Esraa who, smiling from ear to ear, crackles with energy.
“I’m too excited to sit down!” says the 11-year-old Palestinian girl.
She and the other children are participating in a photography workshop called “Amazing Voices.” They’re learning how to use digital cameras so that they can share and celebrate their lives by telling their stories through pictures. It’s part of The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s “Generation Amazing” leadership-building, Football for Development program and for many of the children, it’s the first time they’ve ever used a camera.
Learning how to use the camera and to express her feelings through photographs is building Esraa and the other children’s communications skills. Many of the young people in this program have grown up in a conservative and traditional environment where they haven’t often had the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions. The program is addressing this.
For the past year, the Generation Amazing program’s coaches, who are trained in Right To Play’s play-based learning and development approach, have been using football to teach the girls and boys social skills like teamwork, acceptance and cooperation, and to create awareness about inclusion and gender equality. Learning how to take pictures is an extension of this communication and it gives the children an outlet for their thoughts.
During the Amazing Voices photography workshop, the children focus on one topic, in this case, gender equality. Guided by the coaches, the girls and boys talk about what they’ve learned about gender equality through the program and by playing football. One unified message dominates the conversation: girls and boys have the same capabilities. The children explore this message and how they want to capture it in their photographs to reflect their feelings and experiences. Having a shared theme and message gives the girls and boys a clear focus for their photography.
“I learned about gender equality by playing football,” says Esraa. “At first I was afraid I wouldn’t be a good player, but we played as a team and nobody kept the ball for themselves. So I realized I could play just as good as the boys.”
Having the freedom to express themselves empowers the children to be creative about how they want to tell their stories. The workshop teaches them that there are no “wrong” answers and no “wrong” photographs, which allows the girls and boys to explore their environment for anything that represents their perspective about gender equality.
This creative process inspires the children to think about gender equality in a new way, unlocking a deeper awareness about themselves, their environment and the impact their environment has on their behaviour.
“Before I joined the program, I didn’t know how to play football or to take pictures,” says Esraa. “Now I can do everything.” As for her photographs, Esraa says they reflect her belief that, “girls can do everything exactly like boys in playing, working, continuing their education and taking photographs. That’s what my pictures say.”
Story by Adriana Ermter
Photography by Paul Bettings
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) will deliver all infrastructure and host country planning and operations required for Qatar to host an amazing and historic FIFA World Cup™. Generation Amazing is the SC’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. It uses the opportunity created by Qatar’s hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ to empower and educate people in Qatar, the region and across the globe. Outside Qatar, the programme has been operational in Jordan and Pakistan with Right to Play. In Nepal, it is managed by Right to Play and delivered by Mercy Corps.