Portland photographer teaches Syrian children at refugee camp - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland photographer teaches Syrian children at refugee camp

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

You can usually find Portland photographer Zeb Andrews at his workplace at the Blue Moon Camera Store on Portland's North Lombard Street, but in June he journeyed 7,000 miles to teach his unique talent to Syrian children living in refugee camps in Turkey.

The Karam Foundation sponsored Andrews' trip after they learned he was an expert in pinhole photography.

In Arabic, "karam" means caring, and the foundation believes bringing arts and sports to refugee children helps them deal with the trauma in their lives.

Andrews says he met children who "have literally seen their neighborhoods blown apart. Some of them have seen friends and family killed, and they're carrying this with them."

Pinhole photography is low-tech photography on the cheap, and it's accessible to children who don't have much.

Andrews taught the children to make cameras out of small boxes. A pinprick - the pinhole - allows just enough light to come in to take the photo.

He brought photographic paper from Portland and set up a primitive dark room so he and the children could watch the images develop.

"You're teaching them that photography doesn't have to be fancy, high-end, expensive equipment that they probably won't ever own," he said.

The refugee children took photos of what was important to them - their surroundings and their friends.

With some of the youngest children, Andrews says, he worked on making sun prints and drawings. He says sometimes they wrote very poignant messages.

"One young girl wrote the word 'Syria' in big block letters sitting in a pool of blood," he said.

The Portland photographer says he's not sure he made a difference to the children caught up in this great humanitarian crisis, but it seems he made an impression. He brought back one memorable gift - a cardboard pinhole camera signed by some of his Syrian students in English.

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