In a powerful photo collection put together by UNOCHA, the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs organization, children from crisis-affected nations around the world explore their hopes and dreams in celebration of World Humanitarian Day Friday.
Today, a record 130 million people depend on the U.N. and its partner organizations for humanitarian support globally, due to conflict and disasters. Children in affected areas are especially vulnerable to the dangerous consequences of violence, war and poverty.
Aptly titled “When I Grow Up,” UNOCHA’s project features the work of photographers Vincent Tremeau and Meredith Hutchison, who spent two years interviewing children aged six to 18 to learn about their unique aspirations. Tremeau focused on youth in different parts of Africa, while Hutchison talked to young Syrian refugees living in Jordan. Both regions are afflicted by crises that often compromise children’s human rights.
“Ever since we studied the solar system in primary school, I have wanted to be an astronaut,” said Haja, a Syrian refugee girl who was photographed wearing a white spacesuit in Jordan. “I love being an astronaut because it lets me see the world from a new angle.”
While some of the children’s career ambitions were fostered by curiosity and excitement, others were spawned from heartbreak and tragedy. Michael, a young boy in Sierra Leone, dreams of healing sick people like doctors did when he was ill. He lost 26 family members to Ebola, including both of his parents and multiple siblings.
“Today, the scale of human suffering is greater than at any time since the United Nations was founded,” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, noted in a press release. “On World Humanitarian Day, let us all recommit to humanity and ask what we can each do to make a difference.”
Take a look at these incredibly powerful photos, which will be displayed in the DUMBO district of Brooklyn, New York, until October 21.