Let us be surprised!

June 1st, 2010

Kids from Awal Village, Northern Iraq.
Something that you’ve probably been wondering about is, what about the children who will be selected to be part of this program. Who are they? How are you going to select them? Who is going to select them? The truth is, I’m wondering about the answers to some of those questions myself.

It’s not that we don’t have a clue about how this is going to happen, it’s just that we haven’t started yet, and we’ll probably have to wait until the beginning of next year to really do this part of the project. The question is, what are we going to be doing in the next few months then? Well, first of all, we are planning to work on the ideas that we already have for this project. Let’s see, the team members behind ONE-SHOT have been here since 2003 doing humanitarian projects, so by now we know a couple of things about Iraq and the needs of its people. Still, we have to explore the different angles that this project has.

The one thing that’s very clear for us, and also the reason behind our name, is to be able to provide one shot, one opportunity, one chance for Iraqi children who are struggling with just living. Throughout this project we hope to find the children that haven’t been found by other initiatives, that haven’t been helped enough by the system, the ones lacking an opportunity for vocational training. Some people here are just that; people with the same desires that every human being has. We believe that there are children in Iraq that are not being given opportunities as the normal children in the rest of other countries. These are the best candidates to be part of this initiative.

When Mario Mattei from IGVP proposed this project for us to do in Iraq, we thought about teaching visual arts to Iraqi adolescents, giving them the opportunity to be exposed to the wonderful profession that photography is. But that didn’t totally satisfy my heart. You see, for years I have been wondering about those without privilege. I think in this case, ONE-SHOT is going to be an act of redemption from our “norms” to the underprivileged children of the world. What if one of these children receives a better education? What if they are exposed to art? What if they receive an unexpected gift, an opportunity to improve, to get out… these are some of the things that I’m wondering, but with the certainty that our project will work!

Why? How do I know this will work? Because we have nothing to lose! There’s only one thing that can happen, and that is to win, to stand up, to progress; you got my idea, and probably some of you have been there as well.

During the past years in Iraq, there are groups of children that we have seen who live in adverse conditions. We have been in refugee camps, with dozens of children not attending school, among other things, with no other expectation than to receive help. We’ve seen children living in poverty, again, with no other expectations than just to have something to eat the next day. Lately, we have been exposed to the reality of big communities living in violence, with clans and gangs killing each other, raping, and other criminal things. What about the children there? Are we going to watch this happen on the news? Let them grow and become the next in the line? We have also been exposed to children with physical disabilities, some of them are not able to talk, or move, but, are they not worthy to try photography? Can they not communicate by images? They are mentally OK, so why are they being treated as if they can’t? They definitely need a chance! We have worked a couple of times during the past few years with the group of orphans that we have in this area. They are just incredible! I have the best memories from playing with them in our past programs, and I told them I was going to look for ways to help them in the future. Well, here we are in the future. What if, some people in a different part of the world start a project to help these groups? What if we give them tools to live better lives?

Are you excited? I am! I just want to start soon, but I know we have to wait until we have gathered the resources to do this well. First, we need the tools (cameras), and then, the most difficult part, select the kids that are going to be part of our first year, the first stage of ONE-SHOT. I hope to have you around during the next few months. We’ll be sharing all the info that we’ll find, including the advances and challenges. Help us in whatever manner you can by occasionally checking out this page. Let the children of this project surprise us! Let them teach us one more time that we are still human, that we have the power to love and to provide opportunities to certain unjust situations in this fallen world.

Heber Vega, founder and director of ONE-SHOT.

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