9 November 2012
A photo of smiling children enjoying a frugal birthday party at Beach refugee camp in northern Gaza caught the eyes of judges at this year’s photo competition for young Palestinian refugees, earning it the top prize in “Change the Picture”, organised by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) with financial support from the European Union.
The photo was taken by Samar Abu Ouf, a young Palestine refugee living in Gaza, who said: “My photo was of young children celebrating their friend’s birthday… Despite the obstacles, they were able to enjoy themselves. Because they did not have electricity, they used candles. They were able to celebrate with very simple things.”
The top three photographs, all submitted by refugees in the Gaza Strip, were announced at East Jerusalem’s Yabous Cultural Centre last week. The exhibition also showcased a selection of additional entries portraying the lives of Palestinian refugees across all of UNRWA’s fields of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the occupied Palestinian territory.
"It is not often that we have the opportunity to see Palestinian refugee talent”, said UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Margot Ellis. “The photo competition has given us a wonderful opportunity to do so, especially with its theme, ‘Change the Picture’, which has provided youth with the opportunity to showcase a different viewpoint of life as a Palestinian refugee. The photos from the exhibition were extraordinary and were symbolic of the courage, promise and hope of young Palestinian refugees everywhere. The competition gave us a wonderful opportunity to see the talent of these young refugees.”
Bilal Khader Tellawi’s portrait of a Palestinian farmer in a potato field received the second prize. Mohammad al-Hallaq’s photograph of the dramatic Gaza sunset earned him third prize.
UNRWA’s photo competition was made possible through generous funding from the European Union. In the West Bank, the photo competition exhibition was held in partnership with Yabous Cultural Centre in East Jerusalem.