Invariably the photojournalists featured on MdM are showcased for their insights into and recording of conflict or post-conflict situations, often framed through language not merely of ‘coverage’, but also of ‘exposé’, ‘triggering visual material’ and ‘shocking scenes’. However, Meredith Hutchinson is remarkable for showcasing lives of the otherwise marginalised or forgotten, identifying their very personal hopes for a brighter future.
Most notably, her collection ‘Vision not Victim‘ is a creative initiative established via the International Rescue Committee that invites teenage girls, who are also Syrian refugees, to explore their dreams and particularly their career aspirations, often for the first time. These visions are captured in the photographs following, which the girls were able to plan and promote to spark conversation and social change in their communities.
The collection describes itself as investing in people, particularly the leaders of the future, and serves as an interesting reminder that social change and shared vision requires renewed focus.
“In this image, I am examining an x-ray of a patient to see what is causing the pain in her chest. At this point in my life I am a well-respected surgeon in the region. I treat many patients, but the patient I care most about – the one that drove me to be a doctor – is my father, who has lots of medical issues. To be able to help my father, this makes me feel strong, powerful, and capable.”
“I’ve always wanted to be an architect. Yet, when I was young people told me that this is not something a woman could achieve, and they encouraged me to pursue a more ‘feminine’ profession. But I dreamt constantly of making beautiful homes for families, and designing buildings that bring people joy. Now that I’ve reached my vision, I hope I am a model for other girls – showing them that you should never give up on your dream – no matter what others say.”
“Ever since we studied the solar system in primary school, I have wanted to be an astronaut. I would imagine myself up in the sky discovering new things. I love being an astronaut because it lets me see the world from a new angle. In this society my path was not easy – many people told me a girl can’t become an astronaut. Now that I have achieved my goals, I would tell young girls with aspirations to not be afraid, to talk to their parents about what they want and why, to always be confident and know where you want to go.”
“I want to help children – I will be a good doctor, because I love children — I would treat children, examine, and give them a cure.”
“I am smart, curious, and really brave. These qualities have made me a well-respected surgeon and someone people turn to for help. Here, I am prepping a patient for surgery.”
“In this image, it is the early morning and I am waiting in my classroom for my students to arrive. I teach younger children to read and write Arabic. I am a very compassionate and kind person, and so a perfect teacher. I am strict, but I go out of my way to gently help those students who are having difficulties.”
“Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering – sick or injured – and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them. Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability. Easing someone’s pain is the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief and make them smile – this is what I love most.”
Image credit (all): Meredith Hutchinson