When Yvette's mother saw a photo of her daughter dressed as a fashion photographer — the 13-year-old's dream job — she beamed with pride.
"That's the look of a mother anywhere in the world," Meredith Hutchison, the photographer behind the image, recalled. "The joy, the pride, the disbelief."
The reaction may have been about more than your typical display of maternal love. Yvette is one of the estimated 60 million forcibly displaced people in the world
— half of whom are children. The photo shoot was part of a broader effort to help girls like her set — and realize — career goals. Vision Not Victim
, a new project from the International Rescue Committee
, gives refugee girls from Syria and several other nations the chance to dress up as what they want to be when they grow up.
For Hutchison, IRC's program manager of women’s protection and empowerment, the end result is a powerful "a visual reminder" about how vulnerable women and girls are in this crisis. Throughout the process of seeking asylum and settling in a new home, they are at risk of street harassment, domestic violence, early marriage, and a lack of access to education, she says.
"[Vision Not Victim] is about creating a movement that works towards building a world where all girls get an education, all girls have equal access to healthcare, and good job opportunities," she said. "Where they're valued and supported to pursue their aspirations."
The photo series is just one part of a larger program that includes weeks, if not months, of mentoring and leadership building.
"If a girl wants to be a doctor, we coordinate with the local hospital. She gets a tour, gets to meet doctors, and she scrubs in and goes into an operating room," Hutchison explained.
After the photo shoot is over, the girls receive prints to show their friends and members of their community. The hope is that the images inspire other girls, encourage community leaders to support them in their goals, and serves as a reminder of how far they can go.
"The power and control in that moment is indicated in their faces," Hutchison said. "There's no hesitation, there's no fear. They are just larger than life. And not just playing pretend, but stepping into this moment and claiming it."
Ahead, inspiring photos and captions in which the girls share the vision behind each image, in their own words.