CAMERA AMNESTY: Olive Branch Arts and Women’s Support Centre Armenia

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The Camera Amnesty has gone from strength to strength, with some incredible and generous equipment donations, and hundreds of cameras going off to photographers around the UK and across the world. We’re very grateful to everyone who has got involved in what has become this most valuable ‘recycling’ project, not just sharing cameras as objects, but sharing support, knowing how important photography is to us all, and making sure we can make it as accessible as possible to as many as possible – whatever their situation – homeless person, refugee, refuge seeker – we are all photographers and these generous donations are giving people the tools they need.

Olive Branch Arts are one of the most recent recipients of the Camera Amnesty. Working creatively with refugees and other displaced communities here in the UK and abroad by using innovative arts-based experiences and training programmes they are committed to building relationships across communities to promote love, dignity and care for all people who seek refuge.

Here’s Associate Artist and Photographer Emma Brown to tell us more about the impact of Camera Amnesty donations…

 

“In October 2017 and 2018 Olive Branch Arts Creative Director Becky Hall and I ran Olive Branch Arts’ first two participatory photography training programmes in the Sahrawi Refugee Camps in South West Algeria. So far we’ve been able to support these projects through crowdfunding, via our friends and an extended Western Saharan network worldwide, but, as we’re are being invited to run them more often and with other communities we’ve been looking for long term support for the camera equipment- to make sure our photographers all have access to the equipment they need. This is where Shutter Hub’s Camera Amnesty came in, by receiving cameras from donors we’re able to focus funds and time in other areas where they are needed.

Each participant is given their own camera and peripherals at the end of Olive Branch Arts’ training programs, this has proved hugely successful not only to enable an ongoing creative outlet for each photographer to process their political and social experience but also as a tool of empowerment – three of our graduates have since been employed as official photographers for the Frente POLISARIO – the democratically elected government-in-exile on the Sahrawi refugee camps.

Our next project is taking us to Yerevan in Armenia to work with residents and staff at the Women’s Support Centre, one of only two Domestic Violence Support Centres in the country. Participants will be using cameras donated through Shutter Hub’s Camera Amnesty, the equipment will allow all of the participants to have the cameras they need to take part as well as creating an equipment library for other women to join the project at a later date”.

The Olive Branch Arts team have delivered their participatory photography training programs each year with a core group of young people on the Sahrawi refugee camps, with unaccompanied minor refugees for London based charity Play for Progress and have worked in partnership with Anamuh Arts in Hungary to co-facilitate a unique training for youth workers from all over Europe that combines the PhotoVoice methodology alongside that of the Theatre of the Oppressed.

The images featured here are taken by the participants on Olive Branch Arts’ ‘Sand & Vision’ training programs on the Sahrawi refugee camps in response to a question posed by Tumana, one of their young photographers – ‘How do you photograph Freedom’.

 



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