“ This is just a dream, but fortunately dreams do come true.” Cyrus P., 15, Tehran, Iran
It’s a rainy November morning in Gaza and a truce has just been announced after 8 days of fighting. A young man stands in the rubbles of what is left of his home, destroyed in an air strike just an hour before the war ended. Behind him, a framed picture still hangs crooked on the wall. The boy’s name is Ahmed, he is 18 years old and the son of a fisherman. He wants to live in peace and go to college but we are in the Gaza strip and dreams have their limits here, you often have the feeling of being caught up in a game where you always turn out the looser.
On the other side, few kilometers and a wall away, is Jerusalem, the city many Gazawi’s dream of visiting but who most never will. This is a land of contradictions, a land of walls, a land of visible and invisible borders. From Omri’s Art school you can see the separation wall on a clear day. Omri, who got freed from the obligatory Israeli military service by pretending he was gay during the medical examinations, says that he dreams of feeling at home someplace someday, away from the religious and political tensions he has grown up with.
MAKE A WISH is a photo essay looking at the hopes and dreams of youth, aiming to create a testimony of our time. It’s inspired by the fact that youth should be the age of infinite possibilities. Most of the MAKE A WISH project has been shot in the Middle East and in situations linked to the Arab Spring revolution or in conflict zones where youth too often is derived of it’s right to be young.
The Arab Spring catapulted a taste of freedom in people across a region so long affected by dictators, Western foreign policies gone awry and poor social development. Spring turned to summer, fall and winter, months turned to years and the original revolution into something much different from the ideals of freedom shouted at squares across the region.
When I set out to work on this project, I did so with the assumption that youth is an age of infinite possibility when aspiration is not yet conditioned by experience. As the work evolved I began to understand until which extent aspirations are conditioned by the society in which we live and the circumstances under which we grow up and how important it is to keep on aspiring.
Abdallah rides his horse at dusk, a few days after a truce was announced and Operation pillar of Defense ended. Earlier in the week, riding on the beach would have been impossible due to the war. Abdallah works with his brother, together they perform on horseback in weddings and parties across, just like their father used to do. When asked about his future dreams and aspirations he says: To stay with my horse all the time, all my life.
Two men pass by the remains of what used to be the National Democratic Party’s landmark, torched on January 28th, 2011 during the escalations that came to topple Hosni Mubarak. Cairo, Egypt. March 2013.
Maryam in her bedroom, a student of illustration at the Academy of Art in Tehran.When asked about her future dreams and aspirations she says: “ I do not have many wishes because I got everything I wanted, but many little wishes do exist…my last wish, is death. I came to this egoistic world where everybody think about themselves…I hope that when I die, I shall find the world that I was always looking for. ”Tehran, Iran. July 2013
The stables next to what used to be Yasser Arafat’s headquarters until it was destroyed in 2001 by Israeli helicopter gunships in retaliation for a suicide bombing.
Two Turkish women talk on a lawn while president Erdogan delivers a speech during a mass rally a day after protesters were evicted from Gezi park in Istanbul with the help of riot police and teargas.
Mohammed in drenched clothes, poses for a portrait after disembarking on Lesvos island. He fled the war in Syria and says he will continue towards Germany where he hopes to find a good life and treatment for his diabetes. esvos, Greece. October 2015
Early morning view on an empty space in Gaza city, still burning after hit in an Israeli air strike. Most airstrikes happen just before dawn and, come sunrise, people step outside to look at the damage done.Gaza strip, Palestinian territories. November 2012
Usama poses for a picture after an evening training drill. He is a member of the Nasser brigades, one of various Palestinian militant organisations which operates in the Gaza strip. When asked about his future dreams and aspirations he says: “ That all my land comes back to the Palestinian people. And to go to Jerusalem. I want it so bad”.Gaza strip, Palestinian territories. November 2012.
Farhad poses for a portrait in the room he shares with two other Afghan men who, like him, work illegally in the booming Tehrani construction business. Farhad paid a smuggler to take him from Afghanistan, via Pakistan and across the border to Iran and he will go back the same way he came after a few months or a year. When When asked about his dreams and future aspirations he answers: “ I saw you with my lips of heart and fire coming to my body and if I hear that you are in trouble, something bad will happen to your enemies.”Tehran, Iran. July 2013
View over Sana’a Old City at dusk in Yemen.
Fatoom Gabran, 20 comes to skate at Fun City in Hedda every day. She is a University student and has a dream:
“ To become a lawyer. ”