The Dear World Project: Syrian refugees send their plea for help to the West

Portraits aim to empower people and tell their stories

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The Independent Online

A small boy holds his arms up with the words "I am losing my childhood" written in English and Arabic, while a man flexes his bicep with the phrase "Syria is in my heart" scrawled across it.

These are just two of the powerful images of Syrian refugees captured by American photographers Robert Fogarty and Benjamin Reece. The pair visited Jordan back in September to meet and photograph people who have fled Syria since fighting began back in 2011.

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The pictures are part of the 'Dear World' project run by Fogarty, who uses his photographs to give a voice to people and let them tell their stories. The photographers travelled with charity CARE International which is helping 110,00 Syrians and their families in Jordan.

The New Orleans photographer wrote about the trip to the refugee camp on his blog, he said: "The refugees seemed so different from me—their dress, their language and their customs."

"But I felt like I knew them. Especially when they laughed and cried. And how they described their homes, even down to how the water tasted or how the sands of Syria felt beneath their feat.

"I felt like I knew them because I've heard stories like these before.

"Longing—that pit of your stomach feeling—is the same in any language."

The shots were taken in urban areas of Jordan where refugees are now living, including Amman, Mafraq, Zarqa, and the Zaatari refugee camp in the north of the country.

The images are beautifully shot but it is the simplicity of the messages that is likely to strike a chord and humanise the refugees, particularly the photograph of a man with the message: "My name is Muhammad and I am not a terrorist" written on his arms.

Fogarty rose to fame after photographing thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans back in 2005. Most recently he has taken pictures of the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York. 

His colleague Reece is also making a series of films entitled We Are People following his visit to the Jordanian refugee camp, charting the lives of those affected by the Syrian conflict.

So far over 2 million refugees have been directly affected by the violence, while an estimated 6,000 people are fleeing the country every day. The UN is expecting a further 2 million people to be displaced in 2014.

To see the full project click here