A Syrian Photographer’s Gift to Refugee Children

After fleeing his native country for Turkey, Serbest Salih created a mobile darkroom and went on the road teaching kids to make pictures.

The Syrian photographer Serbest Salih had just finished university, in 2014, when the Islamic State laid siege to his home town of Kobani. He fled to the Turkish province of Mardin, just over the border, where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have settled during the past decade’s civil war. A multiethnic conflict zone at the edge of Mesopotamia, Mardin is home to a community center called the Sirkhane Social Circus School. Under the tutelage of volunteer instructors there, children affected by war learn to juggle, spin plates, and walk on stilts.

The photography school for children on the Syrian border

Sirkhane Darkroom teaches vulnerable communities how the act of documentation can help them to process their own experience.

As the Director of Sirkhane Darkroom, photographer Serbest Salih teaches young people from vulnerable communities – many of them refugees – how to use cameras to process the world around them.