AMMAN — What is considered mundane is often revealing. For three boys in an internally displaced persons camp in Idlib province in northwest Syria, an average day appears to be much like that of any other school-aged child. Play outside with friends, get your hands on some candy, come home for a quick lunch and run back outside to find your friends.
However, most children’s playtime is not interrupted by the frantic calls of parents at the sight of a plane overhead. “Run, run!” the children tell each other as they hurry back to their tent. As the buzzing of the aircraft fades away, one child asks, "Is it gone"? With that, they resume playing.
In mid-December, Save the Children and the Turkey-based Hurras Network, gave a GoPro camera to three children to film their daily lives in an Idlib displacement camp. In doing so, they gave Syrians, so often portrayed in the media only as victims, agency to tell their own story.
Ayman, 11-years old, Awni and Hashem, ten, have lived in the camp for eight months and have been out of formal education for a year now.
Ayman, who is filming, guides us through a day in the camp. Much of what he lingers on is telling of his age; he shows his friends playing hide and seek, going to school and eating candy. Some of the footage is mundane, shaky shots of his family eating dinner. Some of it is beautiful, a community banding together in the worst of conditions and finding strength in adversity.
Above all, the footage is disturbing. What is supposedly a normal day for Ayman, Awni and Hashem takes place in a dire setting. Lacking toys, they play with rocks. They dart between rows of hastily set up tents. Inside, there is no furniture. Planes buzz overhead, a constant reminder that their lives are dependent on the whim of a pilot.
But, Ayman and his friends can describe the situation better than anyone else. Watch their stories below:
This is an edited version of footage provided by Save the Children and the Hurras Network filmed from December 2019 to February 2020