Kutupalong (Bangladesh) (AFP)
When Mohammad Rafiq sees, in the warm morning light, two little rohingyas refugees covering the face of thanaka, a traditional powder, he hastens to seize the moment with his smartphone. At 19, he documents in pictures life in a camp in Bangladesh.
"I immediately loved this picture, because it reflects our culture and the innocence of these little girls who do not want to remember too much the crisis we are going through," he says.
The budding photographer found refuge in Bangladesh, as some 740,000 Muslim Rohingyas who fled, in August 2017, the Burmese military crackdown in Rakhine State, where the majority of the population is Buddhist. They failed in a large camp in southern Bangladesh where there were already 200,000 Rohingyas.
From now on, Mohammad Rafiq documents the daily life of this million unfortunate people. He is one of more than 30 young Rohingyas selected by the World Food Program (WFP) to participate in the "Storytellers" project.
For two weeks, they are taught the techniques of photography and video by smartphone - the understanding of light, exposure and angles - as well as writing techniques.
Then, young refugees share their stories with the public via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, prompting reactions around the world.
"The underlying idea is to be able to give back the story (of their lives) to the people we assist," says WFP spokesperson Gemma Snowdon.
"Storytellers", a project also developed in Chad and Uganda, is published on a Facebook page followed by more than 30,000 people.
- Life through the lens -
All participating Rohingyas share a common goal of sharing life with the rest of the world as they see it unfold before their eyes in the largest refugee camp in the world, with its ups and downs of emotion. brute.
Minara was four months pregnant when she fled Burma. She shot and posted videos of refugees patching their makeshift roofs to withstand the often violent winds.
Another, Hafsa Aktar, has published a heartbreaking letter to her father, who has remained in Burma, in which she confides her painful living conditions and her deep desire to return to her country.
The opportunity to do photography has given wings to Mohammad Rafiq, who wanted to continue his studies in Burma but was prevented by the authorities.
When he was 15, his father gave him his first smartphone. Fascinated by the device, he began to explore his city, located in the state of Rakhine in northern Burma, and photograph anything he liked.
With repression, his young life has shattered. He had to flee with his mother to escape the violence and during this dangerous trip to Bangladesh, he lost his smartphone, his most precious possession.
"I arrived in Bangladesh with my mother and three little brothers after 10 days of a dreadful walk in the mountains," he recalls, sitting in a barracks in the camp.
"I would have so wanted to capture those moments of anxiety that we suffered during our flight," said the young man whose photos have made a star on Facebook.
One of them, viewed 180,000 times, represents a woman meditating during the month of Ramadan, showing that the Muslim minority is now free to practice their religion despite precarious conditions.
"The international press covers the stories of the camps but it is not there 24 hours a day, unlike me," he says, feeling that his stories are more authentic. "People learn in my stories that we are seeking justice and that we want to go home."
Some days, Rafiq goes to an elevated part of the camp from where he can see, in the distance, the Burma hills covered with clouds, and dreams of his house.
"I have flashbacks of times when I hang out with my friends and it makes me very sad," he says, adding that he hopes one day to be able to return to the country to become a photojournalist. "It would be the fulfillment of my dream".
© 2019 AFP