Announcing two reporting fellows who will cover the refugee crisis

The GroundTruth Project is pleased to announce the winners of its humanitarian reporting fellowship, taking place in January 2016. GroundTruth has partnered with international aid and development agency World Vision to empower and support talented, emerging journalists to cover one of the most important human rights stories of our generation: the Syrian refugee crisis.

GroundTruth received nearly 400 applications for the two fellowship positions and the pool of candidates was highly impressive. GroundTruth appreciates the profound interest in the project from all of its applicants. It was a competitive selection process, but after careful consideration, GroundTruth is pleased to announce Christopher Lee and Oscar Durand as the winners.

Christopher Lee is a freelance photographer with a focus on exploring how people respond and interact to their social, political and environmental surroundings. Christopher’s work has been published by The New York Times, The New Yorker Magazine, MSNBC, among others. He recently completed a photo essay following and documenting the journey of three young Syrian refugees from Aleppo, Syria to Germany.

Oscar Durand is an award-winning photojournalist and videographer based in Istanbul. His work, which focuses on visual story-telling, has been published in publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, GlobalPost, Catholic Relief Services, PRI’s The World, Catholic News Service and Future Generations among others. He recently produced an 11-minute piece on the journey of a Syrian refugee and his millennial friends travelling from Turkey to Norway.

GroundTruth believes that their talent in visual journalism and demonstrated commitment to bringing awareness to social justice issues will bring immense value to the project.

“The exodus of Syrian and Iraqi refugees through Europe this summer was history in the making,” said Charles Sennott, executive director of the GroundTruth Project. “But millions of refugees remain in bleak camps and temporary settlements in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey as another winter closes in. This project sets out to give these two talented young journalists an opportunity to focus on the human stories in these refugee camps, particularly the stories of children.

World Vision has been responding to the crisis for almost five years providing infrastructure for refugee camps, food aid, clean water, warm winter clothes and psychosocial care and remedial schooling through its Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and partners.

“For many of the children we work with, all they have ever known is war,” said World Vision’s Director of Public Policy, Chris Derksen Hiebert. “Life in neighbouring refugee host countries is incredibly difficult and children are vulnerable to further violence including physical and sexual abuse, early marriage and child labor. Part of our organisation’s mission is to ensure children’s voiced are heard. We know Chris and Oscar will do their stories justice.”

During the two-week fellowship, Christopher Lee and Oscar Durand will work together closely under the mentorship of GroundTruth founder and veteran Middle East correspondent Charles Sennott. Reporting from the Middle East, they will seek out the human stories of the crisis, particularly those of children. GroundTruth is committed to collaborating with local visual journalists in the Middle East during the project.

Content generated will be layered, narrative storytelling suitable for multiple platforms, such as feature articles, first-hand accounts, commentary, short video reports, high-quality photos and specific social media collateral. The multi-media stories will be packaged into a series of ‘Special Reports’ which would appear on The GroundTruth Project website, and published through GroundTruth’s syndication partners.

This fellowship is made possible with support from World Vision, a child-focused aid and development organization which works in more than 100 countries to help communities find long-term solutions to poverty and injustice. World Vision is a faith-based NGO that serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

The GroundTruth Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to training a new generation of international correspondents and documentary filmmakers to go out in the world to produce social justice journalism that enlightens and informs. GroundTruth works across generations, media platforms and cultural backgrounds, creating life-changing opportunities for early-career journalists as they tell the most important stories of their generation.

While working in partnership with World Vision, The GroundTruth Project will retain full editorial control of the project.