Reminders of Home

Text and images by Christine Pawlata

During the research for our documentary we talked to many people about the things they had lost along their way. Most of them had lost everything during the hazardous journey, but some of them managed to hold on to one or the other item particularly dear to them. 

Here we would like to share some pictures and stories about those precious objects that remind their owners of home. 

Dina*, an elementary school teacher from Iraq, and her three small children have been living at the Krnjača refugee camp on the far outskirts of Belgrade for the past six months. They left Iraq when her youngest child was only eight month old, trying to reach her husband and her oldest son. They had fled to Germany more than a year ago to get treatment for the 11-year-old after he was injured in a bomb attack. Dina had lost most of her possessions when she was walking through the woods in Macedonia, carrying her baby and toddlers. 

She managed to bring a necklace that her mother had given to her before her departure.

"I think of her every day," she said. "I am so worried about her."

Her friend Noor* from Mosul, a young mother of two toddlers who also lives at the Krnjača camp, showed us a ring that her sister had given to her.

It has been more than four months since she has last heard from her family back in Mosul. The city in Northern Iraq has been unter the control of ISIL since June 2014.

In the same refugee camp we met a young - and very talented - hair dresser from Iran. He managed do to save his barber tools:

The rosary in the picture below belongs to a family of three sisters and one brother from Afghanistan, whom we met in Subotica, in Northern Serbia. It is the only tangible memory they have of their late father.  



In Skala Sykaminéa, on the Northern tip of the island of Lesbos, we met Ramy, a 3D animator from Damascus. He showed us a silver necklace which he bought in the old town of Damascus. It's his only material memory from home. He lost all his possessions when the dingy on which he was crossing the Aegean Sea capsized. Two children and their mother drowned.

Ramy is now waiting for his documents so he can finally join his mother and his brothers in Germany. Meanwhile he is volunteering as a cultural mediator, helping the refugees who keep arriving in rubber boats to Skala Sykaminéa. 

"I used to wear it every day," Ramy said when he showed us his necklace. Then he laughs and adds: "I don't wear it anymore though, apparently it's not fashionable for men here to wear jewellery."





*names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.

03 Feb 2017 0

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