Take 3 Minutes and Find Out What Its Really Like to Be a Syrian Refugee

( This is sequel of a five-part series on Syrian refugees. Read part one here .)

“ HERE! ” the guard pointed and stated to a metal detector.

My hold-up triggers him to point once again. Pretty sure this is the only English he understands.

Which takes place to be one word more than the Croatian I understand.

So much has actually preceedinged this point. The months of preparation. The psychological preparation. The discussions with pals. The looking into. The bye-byes to household. The sleep deprived travel days. The crossing through nation borders. All concerned this particular minute; the minute theory ends up being truth.

We are pointed to a workplace where we should validate security clearance. This is where we fulfill Kata, the Croatian law enforcement officer who will escort us throughout the refugee camp.

Kata speaks English.

Thank goodness Kata speaks English.

Kata has a kind smile. Among those smiles where you understand she’ s a sweetie, yet might likewise leave you weeping on flooring with a damaged arm if she ever felt the have to do so.

I made a psychological note to remain in Kata’ s great enhances throughout the rest of this see.

“ Over here is where they are available in on the train, ” she points as we stroll through the camp. “ And here is where they … ”





My mind went numb.


They …


I ’ m uncertain I heard anything Kata stated for the next numerous minutes.


As if an identity has actually been sequestered to this one particular meaning.


A word that immediately separates– pity quietly connected.

Don’ t get me incorrect– Kata is a gorgeous individual! A lady who has actually offered her leisure time to assist us out. To assist these refugees out. I’ m not completely sure I might explain things any much better, however it struck me when she stated that basic word … “ They. ” It made me recognize, at that minute, that I’ ve been seeing these the upper class– these frequently misconstrued individuals– as a “ they.”


As if I in some way rank greater on the totem pole of worth.

* For the record, from this point forward, “ they ” will regrettably still have to be utilized in these works. I hope it will be taken as a word of endearment and regard, not distaste or pity.

We stroll through the camp, gradually, taking in information after information. “ This is where they are processed and fingerprinted, ” Kata describes. “ This is where they get medical attention. Over there clothes, shoes, knapsacks, hot tea, and so on ”


Then we rely on our right, back to the train, and stroll into a scene my mind will always remember.

Hundreds of individuals rounded up into an arranged line, every belongings their life needs to reveal for, patiently waiting to board a train which they have no idea the location. Kids with packs on their back they might rather actually healthy inside, moms with eyes which redefine the word fatigue, and daddies who have no choice however to highly stand with positive hope.

Words do refrain from doing my feelings justice.

This is a mostly misconstrued individuals group. Their identity, to us from the west, has actually been formed by a click-bait delighted media, and they frantically require a voice to share why and exactly what their truth has actually ended up being.

I strolled into the camp, truthfully predetermining exactly what my feelings would be. I’ ve been through this prior to. I ’ ve done these videos prior to. Varying from huts spread throughout the countryside of Ethiopia to homeless street kids in Addis Ababa, to maltreated individuals groups in Uganda, to incarcerated teens in Ohio. I’ ve sobbed and sat with widows piecing together their future, I’ ve been taught lessons in faith by orphans with absolutely nothing more than a tee shirt and shorts, and I’ ve rather actually experienced a devil hoped from an eight-year-old kid … Yeah.

But the distinction here … this is me.

I’ m taking a look at me.


I ’ m taking a look at my household.


Bound together to all they understand, the only genuine belongings left, have now end up being each other.

I’ m taking a look at my kids.


Faithfully following along through this complicated journey. Not sure exactly what is going on, or why, however not preoccupied with exactly what reveal to enjoy next on the iPad, or who took their preferred toy. Not requiring hotdogs and mac-n-cheese for every single meal. Not getting in problem for forgetting to tidy up their toys, due to the fact that their toys didn’ t make it, their mac-n-cheese either, and the iPad we needed to offer to pay for the journey.

I’ m taking a look at my better half.


A mom ’ s never ever altering function, just now running with an ever-moving base called house. SHE is the house now. SHE is the security. SHE is the convenience. SHE holds the duty of never ever breaking, yet is constantly on the edge. The basic reality is that she can not, a lot of little eyes are repaired on her.

I’ m taking a look at my bags.

Everything I’ ve worked for, approximately this point in life, compressed to a handful of belongings. Much has actually been made, so lots of products purchased, so lots of benefits protected, so lots of objectives attained … yet it all has actually been removed from the preverbal blackboard called “ things. ” All now saved as a memory, a smearing of white dust.

Did we load the ideal things?

Do we have adequate cash to obtain there?

Where are we going precisely?

Will we even be allowed, or will we be turned away?

I’ m viewing a group of individuals who, 5 years earlier, lived similar we way we carry out in the west. A group of individuals who, 5 years back, had professions, houses, savings account, pastimes, and prepare for the weekend. A group of individuals with dreams for their future, and desires for their kids’ s.


I believe it’ s simple to separate ourselves from exactly what’ s occurring out here.

“ They ” are them and “ we ” are us, and it ’ s none of our company to redefine associations. In all truth, we are human. All of us have the very same worries, and all of us have the very same insecurities, and all of us have the very same capability to feel nervous and feel pride, and elation, and bitterness, and motivation, and isolation, and all of us get delighted, and all of us have beating hearts that need blood to move throughout our bodies. There’ s not a distinction here.

So let’ s begin seeing it.


And let ’ s begin reacting.


And let ’ s begin appreciating other individuals’ s requires simply as much as we anticipate others to appreciate our own. This experience in a refugee camp is revealing me such.

At least, up until now it is …


Jon Morton is an expert photographer based in Dayton, Ohio.

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