Through our eyes

the shots of young migrants forced into the Greek hotspot of Samos

The photography project “Through Our Eyes” shows the daily lives of asylum seekers living in the ‘hotspot’ camp on Samos Island, Greece, through their own eyes.

Behind the camera, instead of reporters or journalists, we find teenage boys and girls who have been living in this camp for months.

The young photographers are students at the Mazi youth center, the only educational option for them on the island, run by the NGO Still I Rise. Founded in June 2018 by Nicolò Govoni, Giulia Cicoli and Sarah Ruzek, Mazì provides informal education and psychosocial support for children aged 12 to 17 living in the camp.

“There was a protest. All the African guys wanted to be transfered and they burned 2 toilets”Mahdi, 15 years old

“How people build their house in the jungle.”Mahdi, 15 years old

“Inside the camp”Barry, 17 years old

“Barbed wire is horrible but its geometry is fascinating”  — Mahdi, 15 years old

“I hate this line. The line for the doctor. The last time I had to wait for 14 hours” — Samaneh, 16 years old

These photographs are an intimate and powerful portrait of the hardship that they face every day in the Samos camp.

They show us garbage piling up next to containers flooded by heavy rain but also the squalid, damaged and dirty rooms, that our students try to make inhabitable by adding a few colored lights.

They show us the feline population of the camp, and the hope it brings: that the camp cats might scare away the rats infesting every corner of the camp, built for 650, which is home to over 4,000.

“Rubbish is one of the most important problem of the camp”Omid, 15 years old

“The people of the camp think that the cats eat the rats, but the cats are afraid of the rats because they are so big!”Zeynab, 17 years old

“I put this light here to make my container more beautiful”Zeynab, 17 years old

They show us the communal toilets and their filth.

They tell the story of protests held by asylum seekers against the camp management, for the unendurable conditions they are forced to live in. They somehow let us taste the terrible food served in the camp – “food no good, my friend” – and the endless hours of queuing to pick it up. They show us women waiting patiently for a doctor’s appointment, in an endless queue that sometimes lasts for up to 14 hours.

And yet, our students have also brought back pictures of hope. Images of a beautiful sea, of the hills and trees they found while exploring the island. Pictures that show their enthusiasm in discovering Europe, and our culture.

“I don’t like the food of the camp, it tastes so bad”Mahdi, 12 years old

“Food very bad”Elahe, 13 years old

“Toilets, no good”Mahdi, 15 years old

Students involved in “Through our eyes” participated in the Mazì photography workshop which began in December 2018.

The class, run by Nicoletta Novara, is made of 7 modules: history of photography, portrait, movement, using light(s), black and white, street photography and editing.

At the end of the workshop, students were given a disposable Kodak camera, and the assignment of showing their daily life outside of Mazì.

“Inside the camp”Hamid, 17 years old

“In the jungle peolple don’t have water. They use buckets to take water and they return to their tents, but it’s very hard work”Omid, 15 years old

“I don’t know why my people (refugees) are enclosed in a dirty place, far from the other greek people. I don’t know if it is for security or for racism”Omid, 15 anni

“I remember that day because my ausweis was open and we were at the beach to celebrate”Samaneh, 16 years old

“That boat was the same that carried me and my family in the sea between Turkey and Greece. It was 3 o’ clock in the morning”Samaneh, 16 years old

The result is “Through Our Eyes”, where students put what they learned in class into practice, while giving their personal interpretation to the assignment. The exhibition is made of about 200 colored photographs, printed in 10×15 format.

Those photos show us the daily reality and the emotional struggles of children trapped at the edge of Europe, at the mercy of geopolitical wranglings that take no account of their need to survive, to learn, to flourish and grow.

“Children refugees look at sea.”Samaneh, 16 years old

“In this photo children are happy and they are in a safe place. I like that”Samaneh, 16 years old

“In the nature.”Milad, 15 years old

“Sea is my favorite part of the city”Rostam, 11 years old

“Women in Iran can’t drive scooters and I like that here we can”Samaneh, 16 years old

We believe this is the most concrete and tangible way of bringing attention to an impossibile and inhumane situation that needs to change, now.

“Vathy.”Rostam, 11 years old

“That day, near the sea, was very peacefull and beautiful”Mahdi, 15 years old


Salone del Libro di Torino (Italy)

12th of May 2019
h. 16.30-17.30
Sala Argento

Nicolò Govoni e Nicoletta Novara present the photography project “Through our eyes” in one of the most important book fair in Europe.

Palagiustizia di Torino (Italy)

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 130
From 13th of May to 1st of June
Monday-Friday 8.00-16.00
Saturday 8.00-12.00

Opening: 13th of May at 12am with Nicolò Govoni and Nicoletta Novara

The photography exhibition “Through our eyes” for one month in one of the most important cultural center in Italy, the city of Turin.


L’Internazionale parla di “Through Our Eyes”

L’Internazionale parla di “Through Our Eyes”

Sono passati tre anni dall’accordo tra Europa e Turchia sulla gestione dei migranti che sbarcano sulle coste greche. L’accordo ha di fatto cambiato la funzione degli hotspot in Grecia, trasformandoli da centri di identificazione a centri di detenzione....

Il TPI parla di “Through our eyes”

Il TPI parla di “Through our eyes”

“Ogni uomo per se stesso, Dio per tutti”. È questo il motto dei richiedenti asilo bloccati nell’hotspot di Samos, isola greca vicino alle coste turche. La situazione di questa struttura è al limite della crisi umanitaria a causa della presenza di oltre 4mila profughi...

Il The Guardian parla di Through Our Eyes

Il The Guardian parla di Through Our Eyes

This collection of photographs taken by teenage asylum seekers in Samos offers an intimate and powerful portrait of the hardship they face at the island’s refugee camp, which was built for 650 people but is home to more than 4,000. The camp is one of five registration...

Il TPI parla di “Through our eyes”

Il TPI parla di “Through our eyes”

“Ogni uomo per se stesso, Dio per tutti”. È questo il motto dei richiedenti asilo bloccati nell’hotspot di Samos, isola greca vicino alle coste turche. La situazione di questa struttura è al limite della crisi umanitaria a causa della presenza di oltre 4mila profughi...

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