Conditions for Security

Photo essay

Hani al Moulia grew up in Homs, Syria. When the civil war in Syria escalated, killing several of his relatives, he fled to Lebanon, where he lived in a refugee camp in Bekaa for three years. “After one year of doing nothing, and feeling far away from any chance to complete my university education,” al Moulia explains, “I tried to find myself in other things that I could do to keep my heart and mind in good shape.”

Then al Moulia met Brendan Bannon, a photojournalist who had arrived at the refugee camp to teach a two-week photography program. Al Moulia picked up a $100 Fuji camera and began photographing life in the refugee camp, pouring his energy into “a project about the kids who have been born in the camp, because I believe that [the camp] will end some day. I want them to see this picture and see the difference when they realize it’s not their normal life.”

Al Moulia’s photos reflect his deliberate approach to capturing moments. His vision is impaired by nystagmus, an involuntary movement of the eyes that prevents them from focusing and seeing certain colours. While he cannot see through the camera’s viewfinder, his photography method centres on what he describes as “taking a photo with my mind. I care about the angles, the subject, and details over the settings, and with practice all of those things together become like a feeling.”

Al Moulia and his family left the refugee camp in June 2015. Today, al Moulia lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he is studying English and making plans to study computer engineering. “One of my goals now is to help refugees around the world by telling their stories and how they are living, and also share all that I’ve learned with them.”

All captions written by al Moulia.

It was simultaneously funny and sad when I asked my mom: “Why did you bring the house keys with you?” And without an answer, everyone began to laugh, because these keys are useless as they are the keys to a house that is almost completely destroyed. My mom’s laugh quickly turned into tears that paved their path onto her cheeks and silenced the sound of that brilliant laugh… I also cried after that scene.

Real warmth is to be with who you love, anywhere: This is what I learned from this scene of a family. The father is trying to fix the stove (which needs wood) and the kids are trying to have fun around their father.

Ohhh… A moment outside time from our third show in a week! Our instruments with multiple uses provide the refugee camp with tunes of happiness.

He hops onto the shoulders of his brother. They are like a mountain of happiness. The little one laughs until he is tired. He descends from this mountain of happiness to the wreck of the miserable camp.

Normal fuel can take you to the city or to the camp, but I will tell you about the fuel that can take you anywhere you want to be. Yes, it’s your imagination.

It’s great to see my siblings going for a walk before sunset. When I took this picture from the side of the road, I felt a bit astonished, and I asked myself, when will we reach the end of the road? This road on which we can see no specific horizon.

In the camp where I live, this is what the operation of getting your hair cut looks like. A barber is called and the operation is often done outside in order to keep the tents clean. This is reality.

“All I want is to return to my country and live far away from all this tiredness,” says this woman.

Hani al Moulia is a freelance photographer and student in Regina, Saskatchewan.

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