By Rana Khaled
Holding his professional camera tightly, Ali Hassan roams the Egyptian slums on a daily basis, aiming to capture the lives of the deprived children, women, and old people living there.
In his photos, he tries to reflect the suffering of those who live below the poverty line – portraying the unbelievable doses of hope, faith and contentment that light up their faces and souls. Under the title “Make a laugh”, he launched his first photography campaign on Facebook, shedding light on touching human stories that he feels demands attention.
“The whole thing started when I joined the faculty of Mass Communication as I found a way to develop my passion for photojournalism,” Hassan said. “I started working as an investigative photojournalist in a reputable Arabic newspaper which allowed me to get closer to deprived people living in different slum areas all over Egypt.”
Hassan believes that nothing makes people happier than giving them good photos of themselves. During the photo sessions, he listens to the people’s stories, problems and sufferings.
Hassan prefers to take photos of old people with their worn clothes and wrinkled faces, listening to their remarkable life experiences.
Hassan says he will never forget “Om Mahmoud”, an old lady whose son disappeared during the early days of the revolution. She searched for him everywhere and asked everyone, however, she never found him. Although she suffers from many intractable diseases, she never lost hope to see her son before she dies and she keeps waiting for him in front of her house all day and night, said Hassan.
He also loves photographing children who always find the experience fascinating and ask to see their photos more than once. He likes it when they gather in groups around him as he finds it a good chance to ask them about their interests, talents, and dreams for the future. He always returns to their houses to give them prints of the photos.
“Unfortunately, the security disruptions and the general unrest the country suffers from made the lives of those simple people unbearable. With sewage swamping the streets creating a hotbed for epidemics and diseases, they live in tiny tinplate houses whose doors are made of white curtains or rags with no furniture, no facilities and no fresh water,” he noted.
“Even children aren’t allowed to go to school because their parents can’t afford to buy them clothes or pay the school fees. Unfortunately, playing in the muddy streets with some friends is the children’s only entertainment method there,” he added.
Hassan knows that making people laugh under such pathetic circumstances is a hard job but he has accepted the challenge. As he believes that making people happy is the main function of different kinds of arts, he thinks that every artist has to use his talent to make those deprived people happy, even if it will last only a few seconds.
“I’m keen to publish new photos on my Facebook page regularly to make people more attached to the message I want to convey. I receive a lot of encouraging comments that makes me more enthusiastic to complete the project,” he said. “I hope that I’m able to hold a photography exhibition for my photos one day as I’ve been dreaming of this deferred step for many years now.”