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Telling the Story of Syrian Refugees Through the Photos They Carry

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In this Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 photo, Sheikhmous Hussein, 33, a Syrian refugee from the northern district of Al-Ashrafiya, Aleppo, shows photographs from his wedding day, at his shelter in the refugee camp of Ritsona, Greece. "It was on the 8th of March 2014, these photographs were the only thing we managed to carry with us from Aleppo." Hussein said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 11, 2017, Sheikhmous Hussein, 33, a Syrian refugee from the northern district of Al-Ashrafiya, Aleppo, shows photographs from his wedding day, at his shelter in the refugee camp of Ritsona, Greece. ‘It was on the 8th of March 2014, these photographs were the only thing we managed to carry with us from Aleppo,’ Hussein said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

 

Muhammed Muheisen travels throughout the Middle East and Europe documenting life in a world punctured by conflict as an Associated Press photographer. While passing through a refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Greece, Muheisen wanted to photograph their belongings. Unfortunately, many didn’t have many, and those who did lost most of them in their thousand-mile journey to reach the camp.

In this Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 photo, Amineh Hamad, 58, a Syrian refugee from Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, shows a photograph of herself and her husband Ali Abdulqader, 58, at her shelter in the Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. "It was the last time we visited the Roman site of Busra al-Sham, a sunny Friday during the summer of 2010, we had a barbecue, walked and laughed a lot, a day from life, we miss these days, we hope one day it will come back." Amineh said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 7, 2017, Amineh Hamad, 58, a Syrian refugee from Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, shows a photograph of herself and her husband Ali Abdulqader, 58, at her shelter in the Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. ‘It was the last time we visited the Roman site of Busra al-Sham, a sunny Friday during the summer of 2010, we had a barbecue, walked and laughed a lot, a day from life, we miss these days, we hope one day it will come back,’ Amineh said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

 

Instead, Muheisen took the time to get to know the families over tea. “Almost everyone I met had a photograph with them, the photographer told National Geographic. “Photographs are the only physical moment from the past that we carry in the present.” After listening to their stories, he asked to see the photos they’d carried with them. Many of the family members in the pictures were either missing or scattered across Europe. For many of their owners, the photographs brought either pain or relief, depending on the fate of the family member(s) pictured.

The project was a way for Muheisen to tell the stories of those fractured families, as well as raise awareness of the plight of refugees waiting in camps for borders to reopen. “These people are not just numbers or Syrians or refugees,” he said. “They have names and stories. They used to have homes, they used to have lives. Now they’re just called migrants.”

In this Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 photo, Heven Daood, 39, a Syrian refugee from Tell-Tawil in al-Hasaka, shows a photograph of her husband Reiad, 45, at her shelter in Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. "I have this photograph with me for the last 10 years, it is a very precious picture, my husband used to travel a lot for work and this image always remained close to my heart." Heven said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 24, 2017, Heven Daood, 39, a Syrian refugee from Tell-Tawil in al-Hasaka, shows a photograph of her husband Reiad, 45, at her shelter in Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. ‘I have this photograph with me for the last 10 years, it is a very precious picture, my husband used to travel a lot for work and this image always remained close to my heart,’ Heven said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 photo, Sahar Dargzini, 40, a Syrian refugee from Baghdad street in Damascus, shows photographs of her children when they were young, from right, Amal who currently is 24 and lives in Norway, Dania who currently is 26 and lives in Turkey, Mohyeddin, whose currently 15 and lives in Sweden and Salahudin whose currently 20 and lives in Sweden, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "I love keeping my children pictures with me all the times, they will always remain my children, I hope they will allow me to go to Norway and be with my daughter and see my granddaughter Mirna." Sahar said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 17, 2017, Sahar Dargzini, 40, a Syrian refugee from Baghdad street in Damascus, shows photographs of her children when they were young, from right, Amal who currently is 24 and lives in Norway, Dania who currently is 26 and lives in Turkey, Mohyeddin, whose currently 15 and lives in Sweden and Salahudin whose currently 20 and lives in Sweden, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘I love keeping my children pictures with me all the times, they will always remain my children, I hope they will allow me to go to Norway and be with my daughter and see my granddaughter Mirna,’ Sahar said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 photo, Rustum Abdulrahman, 35, a Syrian refugee from the northern district of Al-Ashrafiya, Aleppo, shows a photograph of his wife Zuzan, 33, at Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. "I keep this image always with me, I made it as small as possible so no matter what it won't be damaged and will never loose it, my wife is my best friend and the partner of my life." Rustum said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 24, 2017, Rustum Abdulrahman, 35, a Syrian refugee from the northern district of Al-Ashrafiya, Aleppo, shows a photograph of his wife Zuzan, 33, at Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. ‘I keep this image always with me, I made it as small as possible so no matter what it won’t be damaged and will never loose it, my wife is my best friend and the partner of my life,’ Rustum said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 photo, Habeeba Waqas, 40, a Syrian refugee from Aleppo, holds a photograph showing her husband Mohammed and her father in law Suliman at her tent in Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "This is the only memory that I carried with me from Syria, my husband was young and handsome in this picture." Habeeba said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 18, 2017, Habeeba Waqas, 40, a Syrian refugee from Aleppo, holds a photograph showing her husband Mohammed and her father in law Suliman at her tent in Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘This is the only memory that I carried with me from Syria, my husband was young and handsome in this picture,’ Habeeba said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 photo, Ibraheem Ghareeb, 55, a Syrian refugee from al-Zohour Street in Aleppo, shows a photograph of his daughters, Mariam, when she was 7-year-old and currently 20 and lives in Germany, and his late daughter Layla, 13, who passed away in 2004 back in Syria, at his tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. " This is the only physical memory that I have left of my late daughter Layla and it never leave my sight." Ibraheem said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 19, 2017, Ibraheem Ghareeb, 55, a Syrian refugee from al-Zohour Street in Aleppo, shows a photograph of his daughters, Mariam, when she was seven-year-old and currently 20 and lives in Germany, and his late daughter Layla, 13, who passed away in 2004 back in Syria, at his tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘This is the only physical memory that I have left of my late daughter Layla and it never leave my sight,’ Ibraheem said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 photo, Kulnawaz Youssef, 13, a Syrian refugee from Al-Qamishly, shows a photograph of her mother Suad, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "We fled our home with nothing, having my mother's photograph with me makes me feel safe." Kulnawaz said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 17, 2017, Kulnawaz Youssef, 13, a Syrian refugee from Al-Qamishly, shows a photograph of her mother Suad, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘We fled our home with nothing, having my mother’s photograph with me makes me feel safe,’ Kulnawaz said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 photo, Suad Abdulmajeed, 57, a Syrian refugee from Al-Qamishly, shows a photograph of her son Ayaz, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "We fled from Bashar, referring to the Syrian president, and the Islamic State with nothing but fear, we just wanted to be safe, my son and husband are in Germany and all I want is to be with them." Suad said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 17, 2017, Suad Abdulmajeed, 57, a Syrian refugee from Al-Qamishly, shows a photograph of her son Ayaz, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘We fled from Bashar, referring to the Syrian president, and the Islamic State with nothing but fear, we just wanted to be safe, my son and husband are in Germany and all I want is to be with them,’ Suad said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 photo, Dilgash Hassan, 31, a Syrian refugee from al-Hasaka, holds a photograph of his father Khalil when he was younger, at Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "I have been carrying this picture for the last ten years, it is a holy picture for me, my father is my role model." Dilgash said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 18, 2017, Dilgash Hassan, 31, a Syrian refugee from al-Hasaka, holds a photograph of his father Khalil when he was younger, at Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘I have been carrying this picture for the last 10 years, it is a holy picture for me, my father is my role model,’ Dilgash said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 photo, Fidan Kiru, 31, a Syrian refugee from Afrin, holds a photograph taken in 2004 showing herself and her husband Mohyeddin, when he was 27-year-old, and her sons, younger to older, Avindar, 8 months, Khalid, 4 and Levant, 6, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "This is the only group family picture we have, my husband is currently in Germany and I hope they will allow me to join him." Fidan said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 19, 2017, Fidan Kiru, 31, a Syrian refugee from Afrin, holds a photograph taken in 2004 showing herself and her husband Mohyeddin, when he was 27-year-old, and her sons, younger to older, Avindar, eight months, Khalid, four, and Levant, six, at her tent in Kalochori refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. ‘This is the only group family picture we have, my husband is currently in Germany and I hope they will allow me to join him,’ Fidan said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 photo, Henef Slu, 37, a Syrian refugee from Aleppo's northern district of Sheikh Maqsud, holds a photograph of his wedding day, from the window of his shelter in Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. "It was the most beautiful day of my life the day I married my wife Nadima, we had a lot of guests, family and friends, this photograph was the only thing we carried with us from home." Henef said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
In this photo from January 5, 2017, Henef Slu, 37, a Syrian refugee from Aleppo’s northern district of Sheikh Maqsud, holds a photograph of his wedding day, from the window of his shelter in Ritsona refugee camp, Greece. ‘It was the most beautiful day of my life the day I married my wife Nadima, we had a lot of guests, family and friends, this photograph was the only thing we carried with us from home,’ Henef said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

 

RealClearLife Staff