Since arriving in Canada I have often been asked about my experiences as a Syrian refugee and humanitarian aid worker. These questions made me realize that the North American media has distorted people’s perceptions of the war and of Syria. I believe that these misconceptions negatively affect our ability to provide support to survivors.
(Re)Viewing the Syrian War addresses some of the questions I have been asked through personal stories and objects, alongside images and videos taken by colleagues, friends, and local observers.
The core collection of images was made by Syrian and international photographers, many of whom I met while working for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). We each experienced the conflict differently, and each photographer worked in a different context – some for local media, some for personal art projects, some for humanitarian aid organizations – but all with a desire to document the complexities of life in Syria during the conflict. By framing their work with my own stories I hope to shed light on my experiences with SARC in Damascus, Homs, and other parts of the country, as well as after arriving in Montreal two years ago. Ultimately, my goal is to offer a glimpse of how everyday Syrians have lived and responded to the conflict with creativity and resilience.
The Syrian conflict is complex. What began as a clash between antiand pro-government protestors devolved into a full-scale civil war, with intervention by foreign governments and jihadist militants. While the Syrian government has used violence against non-combatants, at times it has also protected civilian populations. And while many opposition Delivering food. SARC. Rural Damascus, 2012. forces defend the rights of the people, these groups have also harmed the communities they claim to protect. There are heroes and villains on both sides, depending on the particular region and moment in the conflict. My work focuses on the experiences of civilian victims, including humanitarian aid workers who provide assistance in the midst of
(Re)viewing the Syrian War also encourages visitors to reflect on how they might help, particularly in the case of child survivors.
The plight of Syrian children briefly caught the world’s attention in 2015 with a photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while his family was seeking a peaceful place to live. The international community is deeply implicated in this war, so the future of Alan’s generation is the world’s responsibility. When military actions end, the work of repair will have just begun.
About the Curator
Before arriving in Canada Abood Hamad spent seven years (2009-2016) as a humanitarian aid worker in his home country of Syria. He served as a children’s psycho-social support worker, a relief official, and a first-responder for civilian casualties. Hamad also trained hundreds of civilians and volunteers in first-aid for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. He was stationed in major conflict areas during the war, and had direct contact with the day-to-day reality of life in wartime. Hamad came to Montreal as a sponsored refugee in 2017.