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These 10 photos of a refugee school show what the media won't: hope.

This photographer found hope in a what she thought was a hopeless place.

These 10 photos of a refugee school show what the media won't: hope.

When Karen Kasmauski, a photographer for National Geographic, visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, she expected to see what we see in the news every day: chaos, fear, and trauma.

After all, millions of Syrians have been forced from their homes as a result of the Syrian civil war, and half of the refugees are children or teenagers.

But despite the awful circumstances of the Azarq Refugee Camp, Kasmauski also saw hope. At the center of that hope was a group of young students she met, all of whom were seeking an education. So she decided to take some pictures.



These students are studying English in the Syrian refugee camp supported by the Malala Fund. All photos by Karen Kasmauski of National Geographic and used with permission.

The students she met are all Syrians who found refuge in Jordan and now attend remedial classes at the Relief International MakaniPlus Centre through a program funded by the Malala Fund. Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education activist who survived an attempted assassination attempt by the Taliban, believes that education can make a big difference for refugee kids.

"When I was a refugee in Swat Valley, I also dreamed to continue my education," Malala said.

The Jordanian refugee camp currently houses about 30,000 refugees, but it is only one-third full, according to Kasmauski.

The Malala Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every girl has the opportunity to attend 12 years of safe, quality schooling. And according to the nonprofit's website, one-third of the children in the world who are not receiving education live in war zones like Syria.

The school's head teacher, Jamalat, is also a Syrian refugee.

She volunteers her time to make sure that her students attend classes so that they're not left behind in school. Sometimes her classes can be as large as 50 students.


Jamalat and other teachers provide remedial classes so the students can continue their education in Jordan once they leave the camp.

She also provides outdoor classes to keep the students active.

Here, Jalamat turns a jump rope for her students.

Most of the classes consist of girls in elementary and secondary school.

Some of them, like these two friends below, are studying to pass the Tawjihi.

This is the secondary school exam in Jordan that would help them get into a university.

"[The students'] enthusiasm for learning was obvious, their teachers inspirational," Kasmauski wrote in an essay about her visit to the camp.


"Life inside a refugee camp certainly isn’t easy," Kasmauski said. "The girls I met often spoke of home with fond memories. But the remedial support they receive through the MakaniPlus Centre offers them hope and a chance to successfully graduate from the Jordanian school system."

"I came away from this trip feeling inspired and enlightened. These young women have faced overwhelming hardships, yet their passion for learning has only become stronger!" she added.


Kasmauski's photos are eye-opening, not least of all because they show the inspiration and hope that education can spark, even in dire situations.

Seeing these photos really makes me appreciate my education in a way I never did before — and it also reminds me why it's so important to welcome refugees into our communities with open hearts.

A student at the refugee school that the Malala Fund supports. GIF via Malala Fund/Vimeo.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."