"I always dreamt of becoming a photographer but didn’t ever expect to see my dream come true," says Mohammed Abdulkarim, 24, from Basra governorate, as he discusses his love of photography.
"I didn’t have enough money to buy the photography equipment, such as a professional camera, and I was about to give up my dream," he adds.
In September 2019, the United Nations Development Program launched an initiative to provide training to 80 displaced youth, host community members, and Syrian refugees to function as local reporters and photographers after receiving training in the field of TV reporting and photojournalism. The initiative aimed to qualify a group of field reporters to collect impressions about UNDP activities, and help youth to further explore their hobbies and pursue employment opportunities as photographers and reporters.
Mohammed was one of the participants in the training initiative. He received training on photography and storyboard creation, which enabled his transformation from an amateur into an active photographer.
"The training workshop was an opportunity for self-development and a means to change photography from a mere hobby into an employment opportunity that provided me with a source of livelihood," he explained.
Mohammed now works as a field reporter and a photographer covering UNDP activities in Basra, in addition to UNDP projects that respond to the coronavirus pandemic. He photographed the isolation rooms established by UNDP in the province during the outbreak of the pandemic, along with other UNDP projects.
"I used to cover UNDP activities in Basra during the lockdown during which all activities were suspended, enabling me to support myself and my family during that difficult time," says Mohammed.
Mohammed describes photography in Iraq as a difficult occupation, but he nevertheless aspires to establish a photography company with his friends.
Overview of the Field Photographers Initiative:
UNDP launched an initiative to form a group of local reporters as part of the 'Headway' program funded by the EU Reginal Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (Madad Fund) and the EU funded program “Supporting Recovery and Stability through Local Development in Iraq,” aimed at supporting the young groups to develop their skills and enhance their employability. Under the initiative, more than 80 young men and women from the governorates of Basra, Duhok, Erbil, Missan, Ninewa, Sulaymaniyah and Dhi Qar were trained in the fields of reporting, photography technologies, storyboards, TV reporting, and montage, in addition to journalistic ethics, human rights and gender. These trainees are now working as field reporters to cover UNDP activities and other development-related assignments in their respective governorates.