Photojournalism: Child Support photo story

Media: Photojournalism


11 year old Yousef Ahmad Othman works 6 days a week for 8-9hrs per in a car repair factory and earns $25 a month. At present this is a summer job as Yousef is still attending the UNRWA school. When asked what would be his dream job Yousef said ‘a civil engineer’. Palestinians are excluded from many such professions in Lebanon.

11 year old Yousef Ahmad Othman at home with his family all of whom live in 2 rooms of a small building. Yousef’s father works as a taxi driver and the little money Yousef earns also helps to financially support his family.

13 year old Omar Shiahadi works on a busy market street gutting and selling fish for approximately $1 a day to support his poor mother and father.

13 year old Omar Shiahadi at home with his family.

13 year old Abdil Aziz Masah Dahar works as an electrical repairer six days a week from 8am to 6pm for the last 2 years and earns $20 per month. Abdill has six brothers and one sister. His father cannot work as result of a rocket attack from Israel wounding his stomach. Abdils dream job would be to work the electrical industry outside of the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

13 year old Abdil Aziz Masah Dahar at home with his family.

12 year old Wadee Mahmoud el Saad works six days a week for up to nine hrs per day cleaning and making collections and deliveries in a butchers shop. Wadee has been doing this job on and off for the last 5 years earning approximately $40 a month for his work. Wadee has a brother Rizik [see next image] and lives in a household of six. Wadees mother had two husbands, the first died in the war in 1988 and the second is now paralysed and they are divorced. Wadees dream job would be a doctor, so as he could help people.

13 year old Rizik Mahmoud el Saad works six days a week all year round renting scooters, selling snack food and renting games to other children and makes $65 a month.

Wadee and Rizik Mahmoud el Saad at home with their mother, both sons offer financial support to their family.

15 year old Omar Jamal Mohammad works ten hour days, six days a week. Omar is one of seven children and makes $80 a month repairing and fitting window frames and other related materials. Omar does not like his job as it is often dangerous, either when installing windows or in the use of heavy cutting and drilling machinery. Omar has been injured in the past at work. Omars family all live in 2 rooms and the money he earns goes to help support his family. Omar’s dream job would be a teacher.

Omar Jamal Mohammad at home with his family.

14 year old Mohammad Omar Nadaf works on electrical repairs of cars for the last 2 months since leaving school. Working six day weeks for nearly 12hrs a day for approximately $27 a month. Mohammad has two brothers and one sister and a father in the PLO. His dream job is to run his own electrical repair shop.

Mohammad Omar Nadaf at home with his family.

13 year old Hassan Ahmad Al Jajj works nine hour days for five days a week for the past 1 year collecting and sorting rubbish for recycling, earning up to $65 a month. Hassan is one of seventeen children from one father who has three wives. Hassans father explains how the money Hassans earnings are added with other family members and needs to be carefully distributed to meet the needs of such a large family. He is also very concerned for the future of his children given their hardship situation and lack of assistance from charitable organisations. When Hassan was asked ‘if you could have any job in the world what would it be? like many of the other children he had no answer and simply said ‘because I woke up early this morning I had no time to dream’.

Hassan Ahmad Al Jajj with some of his very large family.

This last 15 year old Palestinian boy was working in a car garage just outside the refugee camp. I visited with his family in the refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh but they did not give me permission to photograph the ‘at home shot’. However, I kept it in as I feel it’s a strong image.

Behind the scenes

Child Support is a photo essay from August 2008 looking at how children support their families by working in adult industries. The term ‘child support’ in the U.K. has very different connotations to the lives of many Palestinian families living in refugee camps. The children in this photo essay, from the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp are the ones who are financially supporting their family due to the hardships of so many of the families living in the refugee camps across Lebanon.

The first photo of each child is taken at their place of work and the second at home with their family. All the children were asked ‘what would be your dream job if you could choose any job in the world’, most found this question impossible to answer because it is not something they give any thought too, growing up as a Palestinian in Lebanon and the situation they face socially and politically.

Although this photo story is from 2008 I wanted to highlight a photojournalism assignment  to showcase my background in photography and the variety of work I do.
On the back of this assignment I got to meet and photograph for The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Lebanon.

I have spent several foreign trips over the years in refugee camps which are other worldly when I compare them to jobs that I have had in the Houses of Parliament, Claridges or to an interior photo shoot like the Hakkasan restaurant in Mayfair.
The individuals and organisations I have had the great pleasure of meeting in the camps are some of the most memorable people in my life and another reason why I love my job and the places it takes me.

My photojournalism style is also useful when I work with UK charity organisations on events and brochures, I will probably put another blog post of past UK charity work which includes private Royal visits.

I also guest lecture Photojournalism students at London College of Communication.
One of these stories was showcased on the prestigious foto8 website:

Key skills
Working in difficult environments.
Creating immediate relationships with people.
Working with fixers on locations.
Experience working for news / picture agency notably Camerapress.
Wiring images to newspapers and online publications.