Originally from Lebanon and currently living in Boston, Rania Matar has close ties to the complex issues in the Middle East. During Matar's visits to Lebanon this past summer, she was shocked by the noticeable influx of Syrian refugee children, many of whom were left without a roof over their head and no choice but to fend for themselves.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Matar discussed the inspiration for her project, Invisible Children.
"For these kids… the group identity is defining them – not their individual identity. They were referred to as 'Syrian refugees.'"
"Nobody ever referred to them by name or as an individual."
"As you drive around Beirut, there are Syrian refugee children at every street corner."
The U.N. estimates there are currently over three million Syrian refugees. Of those refugees, approximately 1.1 million are in Lebanon.
With Lebanon's resources running thin, the country and many other countries have stopped taking in refugees.
"It's disturbing because they are just normal children. And they're begging, selling flowers, Kleenex or some kind of trinket."
"The solution has to be way bigger than Lebanon. It is such an overwhelming problem that you don't know where to start and people forget that ultimately these are people."
"At the end of the day these are normal children."
"With the situation in the Middle East, you cannot leave those kids stranded on the streets… they're going to end up with the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time."
Matar has hopes of returning to Lebanon.
"It's the beginning of a project. It's something I'd like to go back and keep doing."