For three weeks this past April, Pittsburgh-based photographer Maranie Rae Staab traveled to Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan with Global Outreach Doctors. She documented their work and the people they helped during her time there, calling them some of the most warm and generous individuals she'd ever encountered.
The camp itself was originally designed in 2012 to be a tent camp that would house 60,000 people. The large exodus of people from Syria resulted in the camp converting to caravan housing for 86,000 individuals.
“People are coming and going every day.” said Staab.
The attitude of these thousands of individuals uprooted from their home is reflected in Staab’s exhibition title ‘Displacement. Resilience. Hope.’ Staab hopes to accurately convey reality of life in the camp.
“I certainly don’t want to make it sound better than it is because the camp is a very very difficult lifestyle,” said Staab.
Nearly 55 percent of the camp’s population is made up of children. Staab said that they were a joy and different than any other kids she had met.
“They’ve experienced and seen and been through things that most of us could not even imagine.”
Despite the tension that clouds the region, Staab did not feel threatened during her time in the Middle East.
“I believe in the work, and I believe in the importance of being there and hearing people’s stories and then bringing those stories back home to Pittsburgh,” said Staab. “I don’t think it’s naievity. I don’t think it’s ignorance. I think we might have a misperception about certain parts of the world.”
This is not Staab’s first humanitarian mission. Previously she traveled to Uganda with a Pittsburgh based nonprofit aimed at ending human trafficking.
“When I hear about something, it’s my instinct to see and understand it and photograph it myself.”
Staab’s photos will be displayed daily at the Three Rivers Arts Festival at Gateway Four in Gateway Center.
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