I celebrate each day I am alive because life is a gift. However, I celebrate today even more so; it is the day I was given as a gift to this world. A friend said recently “Everyone needs a bit of Rafiat in their lives” ?. Not sure what she meant, but I would like to give you a little bit of ‘Rafiat’ today. When I recently found out that 19th of August is observed as World Humanitarian Day and World Photography Day, I was even more thrilled! One is my philosophy in life, the other is my daughter’s passion, profession and voice.

World Photography Day

World Photography Day, founded in 2009, aims to inspire positive change across the world, connecting people and raising awareness through the use of photography.

World Humanitarian day

World Humanitarian Day is an international day dedicated to recognising humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly and set as 19 August, marking the day the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. Although we generally think of humanitarianism in the context of the poor and needy and disaster or wartime support,  Wikipedia states “Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby humans practice benevolent treatment and provide assistance to other humans, in order to better humanity for moral, altruistic and logical reasons. It is the philosophical belief in movement toward the improvement of the human race in a variety of areas, used to describe a wide number of activities relating specifically to human welfare. A practitioner is known as a humanitarian.”   So, the reality is, if we value human life and assist others to improve their lives, we are humanitarians. The poor and needy are on our streets and in our neighbourhood, and we can all do our little bit to help them. The current pandemic has revealed the humanitarianism in most of us. There are many unsung heroes, and that is not just within the health services. This World Humanitarian Day is dedicated to every individual who works for the needy by risking their life. Even if you step out to provide face masks or food for the underprivileged, help your neighbour get their shopping or post their mail, you are a humanitarian, and this day is to celebrate you. In celebration of today’s two special days, I’d like to introduce you to a young lady who combines humanitarianism with her art.

Izzie Budler

Izzie Budler, in my daughter’s words is “a pal from Uni on my course”. Izzie supports a great refugee charity called Care4Calais. Here is a taster of some of her work. Beautifully captured, each image has it’s own story behind it. I recently spoke with Izzie and she told me:

“For the past two years I have been supporting refugees living in Calais. Whilst originally my aid work was separate from my practice, before long they merged together. Over the summer, a friend of mine living in a camp in Dunkirk encouraged me to start documenting my time with him and his family, and thus began my current practice. Having worked with thousands of refugees over the past couple of years, I use film and photography to document and share their stories.

I spoke to a young girl in Dunkirk about her journey to Calais. She showed me hundreds of photos on her father’s phone. From their home in Iraq to their travels through Romania, Turkey, Greece, etc. This is one of her father and grandfather (aged 102 years) at their home Iraq, just weeks before they were forced to flee.

 

Here she is standing in front of the tents at Dunkirk, on the day of their arrival in Calais.

 

While police brutality is currently a daily occurrence in many of the camps, there is also an over-whelming sense of optimism, solidarity and community.

Below are photos of a young Greek boy and an older Kurdish man having a hair cut by an older refugee who has been given the role of a hairdresser within the camp. 

 

 

 

 

And two young Iraqi girls practicing henna together

 

I have always had a clear sense of why I am creating the work; to educate others on the inhumane living conditions that refugees are subjected to, and to counter the negative portrayal we are fed by the mainstream media. I aim to show the human behind the headlines.

The work I continue to do with refugees is both in the UK and Calais. I am currently helping a few refugee friends in Leeds who have recently arrived in Britain. This is as simple as providing food shops, clothes and finding legal aid. By continuing to spread awareness and pro-refugee activity I hope to encourage others to also get involved. From donating to charities, to working within camps, to helping the locals living in your city.”

You can see more of Izzie’s work on her Instagram @eizzibudler.

I’d love to get your feedback on her work and any stories you’d like to share to celebrate today.

Photos from Dunkirk Refuge Camp 2019 and 2020, used with permission from Izzie Budler.