Their World Through Their Eyes

In-Sight was launched with the intention of being a trusted platform for information sharing on the refugee crisis. As important as it is to share news articles and media content from journalists and volunteers, there is no one more qualified to tell you about the refugee crisis than someone who is living it.

 There are few things in this world more powerful than a compelling narrative straight from the source. Here is where you will find the truest insight, expressed through writing, poetry, and art. We don't need to be a voice for these people, they have their own stories that they are more than capable of sharing with you. 
This page is opened with the work of refugee photographer Abdulazez Dukhan whose Facebook page Through Refugee Eyes has given the world a unique glimpse at the reality of life for refugees fleeing Syria. Abdulazez has been an inspiration for others like him to share their talents and stories and for us to create a space to showcase their work.

Through Refugee Eyes is a collection of photographs taken by Abdulazez Dukhan, a refugee from Homs, Syria. Abdulazez's photos capture the harsh realities of living in the camps juxtaposed with the humanity and resilience of those who live there.

His work has been featured in a series of photography exhibits across the US and Europe. The newest additions to his collection can be found on the TRE Facebook page.

Abdulazez Dukhan

"I used to live in Homs city, Syria, with my family and friends. 
As the war increased, it took away any safe option of staying in my hometown, my home country.
On the day we fled, I remember being consumed by three feelings: Gratitude for the chance of life, deep sorrow, and determination to try my best.
Telling the truth was the first right we lost in the war, so I began teaching myself photography during our escape. I borrowed computers, books and cameras, all in hopes of later telling the truth about what had happened to families in Syria. On the 26th of February 2016, I arrived in Greece with my family. The border was shut 12 days later, and I officially became a refugee resident in a tent camp.
Almost 7 months have passed now and being in different refugee camps, I have met families, friends and children who have shared their stories with me. 
Through Refugee Eyes were created to pass their stories on to you. 
Looking through a lens, we are deeply hoping you will look at reality with us. 
Our hopes, our smiles, our suffering, our lives 
it is all here, told as truthfully as possible.
We need you here with us – eyes wide open. 

My name is Abdulazez Dukhan, I’m 18-years-old. Welcome to Through Refugee Eyes."
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Host a Through Refugee Eyes Photo Exhibit

Stories and Poetry

My name is Abdo. I am from Aleppo, Syria.

I am 18 years old. I am from an educated family. I used to live in a small village in Aleppo. I used to live happily there. I would go back and forth to school and come home to a happy house. Because of the rough circumstances of the war, I had to drop out of my school after 10 years of hard work. I used to love studying so much that it had became one of my dreams. The war was the reason I stopped studying. I had to work to help my dad with our house expenses. I worked for a year and half until a day came that I became very ill and weak. I was hospitalized for 3 days and could not go back to work. The war was getting close so I had to leave my family and go to Turkey where they made us work. It was exhausting with long hours and overtime. It was a really rough time in Turkey. I realized Turkey had nothing to offer except hard labor and the only benefit was exhaustion. We tried to go back home but the border had been closed. After that, I wanted to escape to Europe. I had heard about Europe being very civilized and progressive. I decided to pursue my right to an education and achieve my dreams. I could not help my homeland by fighting the enemy, but with my thought and knowledge, I hoped to fight them harder.

The day we left, we gathered in a small park and they put us in a big closed trailer and we drove for three hours. We got to the shore at 2am, put on our death jackets and waited for a little rubber boat. We got in to a dinghy, which I named the Black Ghost, and went out to sea. I did not know what was waiting for us. My 2 married sisters and I remained in the middle of the sea for 7 hours just floating. We called for help and no one answered. We lost patience. The world turned black in our eyes and we resigned ourselves to our fate. People among us tried to get in touch with the coast guard. When day light came, the sun was very hot, even though I was always taught that the weather in the middle of the sea was supposed to be beautiful. I was wrong. Then we saw 2 other boats - one offered to take us back to Turkey. The other would not answer our pleas for rescue.

  The coast guard finally came and took us to a little island in Greece. We were given a map. We boarded a ship going to Athens. We arrived at night. In Athens, we were put on a bus to Idomeni (refugee camp at Greece-Macedonia border). The driver dropped us off in the middle of the road and we continued on foot. We slept in the woods. It was raining, but we found our way to Idomeni after 4 hours of walking. We were exhausted. We were waiting for our turn to cross the border, but it was closed in our faces. Here began my real story… 1 month, 2 months, 4 months passed. The border still did not open. We witnessed storms, rain, hunger and thirst. Our things were stolen, and there were many problems. I used to hear that Europe was the land of civilization and humanity, but for the last 4 months I haven’t seen any of that. I wish I did not come to Europe.
Then we were compelled by joint forces to leave Idomeni and go to a military camp. This word is significant since the camp is an old factory that does not meet criteria for decent living with its foul odors, mosquitos, and swamps.
One day, I received a letter from my family saying that my brother entered the Kurdish militia. I wish there was something I could do to prevent this. He was my father’s right hand at home but from another angle it is our duty to protect our Kurdish people. My dear friend, I don’t want anything from Europe. I only want to live with dignity. I want to achieve my aspirations. There are words that I can’t express in writing. What I know is that one day of living in this camp is like 5 years of the war I experienced in Syria.
Thank you for sharing my story.
With my respect and appreciation,
Thessaloniki, Greece, September 2016​​

My name is Hassan Alhomse. I am from Homs, Syria

Four months in Greece…
Everyone wants to ask, how do I feel after four months in the camps? I cannot answer simply how I feel… can you help me please?
When your home is small tent in the middle of nowhere.
When you must wake up every morning trying to make your week tent more strong in face of the wind, rain or even the heat and you can do it.
When you see sick people every day, pregnant women, kids fighting the sickness in the dark of these tents and nobody cares.
When you hope for the world to give you a solution after four months of waiting and the only solution that they give is to move you to another camp and give you a bigger tent.
When you see people run away from war hoping that maybe they will find the safety somewhere on this planet, and now? They are hopeless at the gates of Europe to the extent that they would prefer to return to war because they think it is more merciful than here…
When someone asks you for help and you can’t help him and you don’t know anybody who can.
When they forget your name and they call you by your tent number.
If you can tell me how I feel please tell me because I don’t have words to discribe how I feel.

Refugee's message from tent 2B5
Borders Can Kill
​Amer Alhaj

During the years that we spent under the war..
We knew that the guns can kill... 
We knew that the planes can kill.... 
"chemical weapons" can kill....
We escaped to find our life, but we found that the sea can kill ..... 
survived from the sea, to find that the
borders can kill .... 
Share our suffering ...
Make the world know ....

 ​Please Don't Cry
​Amer Alhaj
One second at the camp’s clinic. 
A familiar medication handed to the man whose request I translate.
Two minutes on the shores of Izmir. 
Some day in February, on a cold night, one o’clock after midnight.
A woman in her twenties. A small child in her arms. One-year-old, maybe? 
Wakes up from his sleep, begins to weep. 
The cry breaks the dark. Shakes the invisible snake, moving towards the rubber boat on the beach. 
Quiet, we must be quiet. Silence in our steps. Loud are the baby’s screams. It grows.
The head of the line stops. We obey. 
We all stand, silent, motionless.
The smuggler’s pocket produces a small box. He walks up to the woman and the little boy. "Give him ten drops to sleep".
This stuns everyone. Yet, no one speaks a word, no one opposes. 
Even if they wanted to, they wouldn't. We are in pitch darkness. They have their feelings, although you won’t see crying, laugher or anger.
I am near the woman. She opens the canister. "Will he wake up again if I give him ten?" One second it would take me to reassure her, answer yes. But the word chokes up in my throat, because I do not really understand what is going on.
The smuggler’s voice speaks before I can. 
"Of course he will. We give some children more than that. Let’s hurry."
The woman sits on the ground. Tries to force the child who resists the medicine. He does not want to be part of this crime. Her hands shake. Her breath is troubled. 
I am called to help them finish. I approach them and grab the boy with the mother. Together we pour the blobs in his mouth. The cries have not increased but the screaming has.
I still see the woman’s face today. Her eyes filled with tears when forced to drug her son. I still remember her fear. 
Fear for her child. Fear of the sea.
And I wonder. Why does the enemy enter our land loud with planes, guns and explosions. But we, the land’s owners, we have to leave in silent caution. 
Even our children must not weep.

Photos and Art

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"I'm a Syrian girl, 11 years old, stuck in Greece as a refugee. I'll show you our suffering through my drawings."
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"They were stuck in Idomeni. The kids were extremely panicked by planes and helicopters. So he started making helicopter toys for them, using the wire of the border's fence."
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​"After five years of war, every country has a hand there, every country is part of killing our people..."