Hope and reality after the earthquake

Case Study: Franziskaner Helfen

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Photo: Hasan Belal / Franziskaner Helfen / Fairpicture

Brief

Natural disasters require rapid action. Like the devastating earthquake in the border region between Turkey and Syria in February 2023. According to UN figures, over 8 million people in Syria alone were affected by the direct consequences and needed humanitarian aid. While global coverage has waned, Franciscan Helfen steadfastly continues to provide those suffering with food, water, a warm place to sleep and help with reconstruction.

Fairpicture photographer Hasan lives in Damascus. After receiving the assignment, he immediately travelled with an assistant to Aleppo, the Syrian epicentre of the disaster. He documented the consequences of the earthquake in the form of photos, videos and interviews. In his work he captures the Franciscan monasteries and schools overflowing with people seeking help, and reveals many personal stories of children and adults seeking shelter. His work gives an impression of everyday life after the massive shock of the earthquake. 

Client

Franziskaner Helfen

Visual Creator

Hasan Belal

Theme

Humanitarian Aid

Location

Aleppo, Syria

Date

February 2023

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As a part of Franciscan response some engineers made a field visit to check for the buildings which were affected by the earthquake and need restoration.

Photo: Hasan Belal / Franziskaner Helfen / Fairpicture

Context

The situation in Syria has been dramatic for the population for many years due to the ongoing civil war. The earthquake disaster in February 2022 left an additional five million people homeless from one day to the next. Unlike many other aid organisations, the Franciscans have never left the country since the beginning of the unrest. They have maintained an unwavering presence in many places, including the city of Aleppo, even after the earthquakes. They provide constant help in a region where there no longer exists a regular daily routine nor a normal life. Fairpicture photographer Hasan Belal met with affected people on both sides for this assignment: Friars and staff of the organisation, as well as with families who have lost their homes in the earthquake and who found a place to stay in the Franciscan reception centre in Aleppo, where they are provided with the basic necessities of life.

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Hasan’s work is realistic, but has its own calmness and aesthetic. I like this a lot. And I really like the interview with Mrs Khadija, her story and how she gets help is so important for our donors.

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Katharina Kolana

PR & Fundraising | Franziskaner Helfen

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Portrait of Mrs. Khadija Mohammed. Her house was destroyed by the earthquake in February 2022. Watch her interview on the website of Franziskaner Helfen.

Photo: Hasan Belal / Franziskaner Helfen / Fairpicture

Outcome

Hasan and his assistant spent a total of three days in Aleppo. They came back with a multitude of photos and video interviews, all of which demonstrate his extraordinary talent: To express the everyday life of refugees and people seeking protection in artistic and documentary photographs. Hasan’s works convey both hope and reality and aim to express the feelings of those affected through the medium of photography. 

This, among other things, is what we at Fairpicture understand and promote by ethical storytelling: To do justice to the people, situations and realities photographed and to offer readers and viewers a differentiated understanding of the world that is laid out in front of them.

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Franciscan workers preparing doors and walls to make small rooms to stay for the people affected by the earthquake.

Photo:  Hasan Belal / Franziskaner Helfen / Fairpicture

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