During my 8 years in Iraq, serving as a humanitarian worker and photographer, I have heard a plethora of stories about death, war, pain and hardship. These stories make me think about our responsibility to this country (and other countries in similar circumstances). Many times I have asked myself How do we end this? Is there any way to positively change the future in places such as Iraq? How or where do we start?
I think my answer lies in the most important asset any country has, which is not it’s resources, but it’s children. They are the ones who can do things differently, the ones who can forgive, care for, and love their fellow citizens.
At the moment, there are more than 3.5 million orphans in Iraq alone, with 500,000 living on the streets. There are also a number of other factors that can put the future of these children at risk. That’s why my family and I have decided to initiate this project by working with the children of Iraq.
We know that many of them are not receiving enough help and that they want to be someone in life; they want to become professionals and to collaborate on the future of their country. The problem is they don’t know how to do it because they haven’t received any real opportunities.
These are the children that we are targeting with this project — the ones with no opportunity for improvement, the ones that will end up completing the cycle of poverty and hardship in unless opportunity knocks on their door.
As you know, I am a photographer. I believe that photography can redeem people by giving them an opportunity to be heard, to be seen, but more than that, to express themselves and to interact with others. Photography has played an important role in our societies and in the lives of many. Having been crucial in the past, I hope it will become so again here in Iraq, and in other places around the world.
I’ve seen other initiatives that have been using photography to get children out of similar conditions. In some cases the results have been amazing! That’s my hope for ONE-SHOT.
I hope to have you as a partner on our journey. The students in this project will be blessed to have people like you giving them this ONE-SHOT for a different life. Please read our “About” section to better understand the scope of this project and to find ways to join us and help.
My family, my team, and myself will be always grateful to you!
Heber Vega is an Editorial & Humanitarian Photographer based in northern Iraq, specializing in documenting the work of NGOs and non-profit organizations. For more information www.hebervega.com