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Meghan Lyden

As part of World Refugee Day, Save the Children commissioned photojournalist Moises Saman to document the sleeping conditions of Syrian refugee children. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, 1.6 million Syrian refugees have fled the country. More than half of those refugees are children whose families are forced to cross borders into Jordan, [...]

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Writing your own life script: Samira Shami at TEDxLAU

An instructor of essay writing and argumentation, Samira presents this talk about writing a different of paper, your very own life script, one which involves redefining your own life goals and pathway. She asks audience members to examine who they truly are and presents her own means of measuring rebellion and success. These talks were recorded at the Lebanese American University in Beirut on September 29, 2012 as part of the first independently organized live TEDxLAU event under the theme of "Unleash Your Passions". About the speaker: Prior to joining LAU, Samira Anais Shami taught for 12 years in the United States, and for 17 years in Lebanon and 3 in the Gulf. She also coordinated English teaching programs in the US and in Lebanon. And she has worked on an article on the movie Caramel and is currently working on an academic article with a colleague on the empowerment of women in Lebanon. Besides her interest in women's issues, she is interested in student motivation and the dynamics of group work in the classroom. A much-loved teacher and advisor, Samira is a valuable member of the new Department of English Language Instruction at LAU and teaches rhetoric and oral communication courses. Contact Samira via Email: samira.shami@lau.edu.lb
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Hussein Malla / AP

A Lebanese military intelligence agent holds his gun as he runs during clashes between Lebanese troops and a Syrian gunman who had engaged in an hours-long shootout with the security forces, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 24, 2012.

Anwar Amro / AFP - Getty Images

Lebanese security forces take position as they storm a building in Beirut's Karakass district on May 24, 2012 following a shootout during the night with a man holed up inside a flat.

Hussein Malla / AP

A Lebanese soldier, right, and a policeman, left, take position in front of the apartment building where clashes erupted.

Reuters reports — Two people were killed when Lebanese soldiers stormed an apartment in Beirut on Thursday where a gunman had exchanged fire with security forces, a security source at the scene said.

The source told Reuters the gunman, a Syrian national, was killed when the soldiers broke into the apartment at around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. ET), following several hours of shooting.

Boiling point: On Lebanon's Syria Street, a civil war brews

They found the body of another man in the apartment, along with rifles and grenades, and two men who were arrested.

Four soldiers were wounded, the source said.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident was linked to recent sectarian violence in the Lebanese capital which has been fuelled by the conflict in neighboring Syria. Read the full story.

Follow @msnbc_pictures

Hussein Malla / AP

Lebanese soldiers help a young girl and her family flee her house via a backyard during the clashes.

Anwar Amro / AFP - Getty Images

Lebanese security forces detain an unidentified man outside a building in Beirut's Karakass district on May 24, 2012.

Syria's chaos has come over the border into Lebanon, with gunmen clashing in deadly street battles. NBC's John Ray reports.

 

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Of the myriad lessons that can be gleaned from the Arab Spring, perhaps the most inspirational is the confirmation that there’s strength in numbers. So it’s hardly a surprise that several photographers who’ve made their livelihood documenting the Middle East – including the aftermath of the revolutionary riots from earlier this year – would apply such a lesson to their work.

Hence, the Rawiya collective, a photography cooperative made up of six female photographers from across the Middle East, who’ve pooled their resources, contacts and talents to not only strengthen their work, but to also expand their reach.

The photographers—Tamara Abdul Hadi (currently in Beirut), Laura Boushnak (currently in Sarajevo), Tanya Habjouqa (currently in East Jerusalem), Dalia Khamissy (currently in Beirut), Newsha Tavakolian (currently in Tehran) and Myriam Abdelaziz (currently in Cairo) – had each previously built careers shooting across the region, working the hard news cycles for various publications. However, the women felt that important social and political stories were still going unseen and wanted a platform to share them.

So when Tavakolian first approached Abdul Hadi and Khamissy during a trip to Beirut in 2009 with the idea of forming the collective, the women were enthusiastic. Boushnak and Habjouqa were asked to join the group soon after and in August 2011, Abdelaziz, whose work covering the Egyptian revolutions was admired by the other women, also joined the collective. The women spent long nights in Beirut cafes and chatting over Skype, discussing their vision.

The focus of Rawiya – which means “she who tells a story” in Arabic – is on capturing the region’s social and political issues as well as its stereotypes through photo essays and long-term projects. Unsurprisingly, this has translated into a body of work that spans the spectrum of subjects from dancers to displaced citizens to drag queens. The images are powerful and, thanks to the already extending reach of the group, now garnering an audience.

Rawiya made its official debut at the Format Festival in Derby, U.K. this March and the women say they’ve already benefited from exhibiting as a group. They went on to showcase their work at the Empty Quarter Gallery in Beirut, which led to invitations to exhibit in Greece and Kuwait. Because each woman brings a new region and issue to the collective table, they all benefit from one another’s audience.

In addition, being the first cooperative of its kind from the Middle East – with only female photographers – has provided the women with an extra bump in prominence. Of course, being female in a male-dominant industry isn’t without its challenges, yet the women insist that their gender hasn’t hindered their work. “When people ask me if it is more challenging being a female photographer in this region than a male photographer I usually answer ‘no,’” Abdul Hadi told TIME in an email. “I personally have had access to places a male photographer wouldn’t, which ends up being more of an advantage.”

The women hope to capitalize on that advantage and have plans to eventually expand the collective, hoping to work with other female photographers from across the region whose work they admire. Because that’s another way the collective has strengthened one another’s work: by inspiring it.

Read more about Rawiya here.

Megan Gibson is a reporter at the London bureau of TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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