20 June 2022 - Switzerland

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi to open international premiere of Save the Children's ‘I Am Alive’ photo exhibition in Geneva

GENEVA, 20 June 2022 – As the war in Ukraine hits the four-month mark, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will open the international premiere of a photo exhibition portraying eleven people who experienced war as a child and the impact it had on their lives at Geneva’s Palais des Nations on 23 June.

Save the Children Germany joined forces with award-winning Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr for the exhibition “I Am Alive. Ten Children, Ten Wars, Ten Decades – and a Baby”, to examine what it means to experience the horrors of war as a child and how receiving help in times of need can shape the lives of survivors.

The show, based on the photo book “I Am Alive”, was first exhibited at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin in 2019 to mark the centenary of Save the Children and focuses on the lives of ten people who survived war and conflict during their childhood over the past century – plus a baby that acts as a symbol of hope for the next generations.

Now, almost 100 years after Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb inspired the League of Nations to endorse the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and exactly ten decades after she drafted the rights of children during a hike on Geneva’s Mont Salève, the global charity is returning to the Swiss city at the invitation of the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in Geneva to run the exhibition during the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations.

“In light of the war in Ukraine, this exhibition is unfortunately especially relevant,” said Florian Westphal, CEO of Save the Children Germany, who lived and worked in Geneva for many years.

“More than 450 million children – about one in six – are growing up in conflict zones today, and a record 100 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced. The ‘I Am Alive’ exhibition highlights this reality, but it also gives us hope.”

 The UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi stated:

“This exhibition is a poignant reminder that behind each number is a human being with the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. Each of the eleven stories presented here is a testament to what can be achieved through a combination of empathy, humanitarian assistance, and creating opportunities to be seized. It is now up to us to ensure that we provide the necessary help and opportunities for the rest of the 100 million displaced people around the world today.”

Adrian Förster, CEO of Save the Children Switzerland, said:

“Bringing the show to the Palais des Nations in Geneva means Save the Children is returning to the place where our founder Eglantyne Jebb passionately advocated for children's rights, which did not exist at the time, and where she opened the organisation's first international office in 1920. With this powerful exhibition at the UN's European headquarters, we also want to underscore the special role Switzerland played in our organisation's policy work as well as our early expansion around the world.”

The opening ceremony will feature speeches by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the German Ambassador to the UN Geneva and Vice President of the UN Human Rights Council Dr. Katharina Stasch, and the Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva Tatiana Valovaya.

Guests of honour will be the photographer Dominic Nahr as well as Vichuta Ly, one of the people featured in “I Am Alive” who survived the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia and is now a human rights lawyer.

The fate of Vichuta Ly has had a lasting impact on Dominic Nahr, who travelled around the world for this project and has recently been documenting the war in Ukraine for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“The brutal genocide in Cambodia is often forgotten. Vichuta makes this history tangible. With ‘I Am Alive’ I wanted to transport the reality of the many wars of the last century. And unfortunately, the 21st century is also a warlike one. It was interesting to photograph different generations and to tell not only their personal story, but also the story of the wars they experienced.”

“I Am Alive” initiator and curator Martina Dase, Communications Director at Save the Children Germany, said the project is a celebration of life, despite everything, showing that children can face the ravages of war with great resilience – if they receive help at that crucial moment:

“At the same time, the exhibition gives visitors the chance to talk about the unspeakable – about what war does to children and to all of us – and to share our stories. In my hometown of Meldorf in Northern Germany, where the ‘I Am Alive’ exhibition was last hosted, we experienced first-hand the healing effect it has, especially now that another war has broken out in Europe. After the historic ‘homecoming’ to the Palais des Nations, we are hoping for many more international shows – in places whose names are inextricably linked to war, and in places like Geneva where peace is being fought for.”

The photo exhibition at the Palais des Nations (E Building, Door E40, 1st Floor, Bar Serpent) in Geneva will run from 20 June until 6 July, Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. The opening will take place on 23 June at 1pm. For access to the exhibition at the Palais des Nations it is mandatory to register here: https://indico.un.org/e/IAmAlive.

 

Content:

In addition to the photo book published in German and English by Kerber Verlag, the multimedia project “I Am Alive” includes a wide range of content material such as photos, videos (including raw and historical footage) as well as interviews with the protagonists, photographer and creators:

Recommended sites for photographers and TV crews in Geneva:

  • Mont Salève, with a view of the city and Lake Geneva, where Eglantyne Jebb drafted the Rights of the Child
  • Memorial Stone for Eglantyne Jebb at ICRC with a view of the Palais des Nations
  • Saint-Georges Cemetery, where Eglantnye Jebb is buried

Photo impressions of Eglantyne Jebb’s historical sites and work in Geneva: www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Share/bh01t7c2nj0epiu5114l028h1h3wu2ts

 

For interview requests / content requests contact the Save the Children Germany press office: