Making Light was set up in 2016 by Jessica Pocock, the sister of John Cantlie. John is a British journalist who was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012.
It is dedicated to sharing stories of Syria, encouraging audiences to see beyond the darkness of terrible headlines, creating threads of understanding between the people of Syria and the UK.
I am rather embarrassed to say I knew very little about Syria before 2011 and have not yet visited. Before leaving work to raise my family in the 1990s, I worked for many years at a small building conservation charity, researching the history of all sorts of wonderful buildings at risk in Britain. Then, in 2012, my journalist brother John Cantlie was kidnapped in Binish, Idleb, and we were thrown into a world of fear, where you didn’t know where to turn, what was true, or who to trust. I found the best way to keep things in perspective was to go online and read stories from Syria; I was drawn particularly to those of women, whose brothers and sons had vanished but who nevertheless kept their families going. I began, too, to see stories which revealed far more of the people they depicted than reporting their deaths ever could – the boy from Aleppo who made a model of the city as he imagined it one day to be again, students risking sniper fire to get to university, a grandmother going back to work as a midwife and walking half way across Damascus each day to keep the family going, a young woman caught in the sarin attacks of Eastern Ghouta saving her murdered brother’s caged bird. Later, some of the men my brother had been held with were murdered; from 19th August 2014 our private difficulties were suddenly screaming headline news, people we loved used to fit many half-truths and partisan narratives. These things and some little paper chess pieces that managed to come out from Raqqa were really why Making Light has come into being and why I am so passionate about Syrians in the UK being able to tell the stories they choose to tell, which reveal who they feel themselves to be, certain they will not be used for someone else’s narrative.
Founder Director, Making Light