Voices on the Move
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a voice to tell it. And everyone has ears to hear or eyes to read it. Now it only needs people to listen to these voices, to see these faces and to change first their perspective and later the world.
In January 2016, I started collecting stories of people who once fled their homes and who are now living in Germany. They all had their reasons. They all came on different routes and ended in different places. They all had different dreams, expectations and plans for the future when they left their homes.
I departed on this journey because I believed that people who are forced to leave their homes are not ‘just’ refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants or victims of catastrophes. They are humans with individual faces and voices to tell stories.
So, I collected stories of people who have something to share with the world. I created this space made out of words and photos in which voices can talk and in which ears can listen, eyes can see, and minds can understand. Many of those voices tell stories that show that much in this world needs to change. We all have voices and the ability to move not only our bodies away from disasters but also the capacity to move horizons beyond conventions and prejudices. We can connect to voices, connect through voices, and connect our voices. Therefore, voices connect people and maybe one idea in one of these stories will one day be the spark that makes the whole world brighter – who knows?
Football was my dream. I played in school teams, but one cannot stay a football player, because it will not bring you food on the plate. My life was so normal. It was a life like most young Syrians have. When I realized that I cannot live from playing football, I stopped and started my studies. I graduated from high school and studied law. If you studied law in Syria, you can either become lawyer or judge. But I didn’t want to be a judge because then you have to accept bribes. It is difficult to stay incorruptible. If you are not corrupt, they will give you one, two, maybe even three chances to take the money. If you don’t take it, they will find a reason to bring you to jail. My upbringing and my religion have taught me to not take illegal money from bad people who want to look good. When I finished my fourth year of study, I had two choices: to work and die, or to flee. About two months ago, I was already in Germany and I needed a certificate from my university in Syria. So, I asked friends to get it for me. But the university refused and said I had to pick it up personally. So, my friends just gave them some money. They got the papers and sent them to Germany. Justice and power should always go hand in hand. Power can protect justice, but if there is power without justice, power is abused. Bashar al-Assad for example has power and he is changing the world to the worst. And he is president! He is a negative example of someone who can change the world to a better. You have to change yourself. If president Assad were to change himself, everything would be okay. But if you cannot change, at least clear your place for someone who can change the world to a better place.
Amer, 25 years old, born in Syria.
It is not that we left voluntarily, but that we were expelled from Yugoslavia. We went from camp to camp via France to Germany. My mother always told us that she was terribly afraid because my father often hid Jewish fellow citizens in the camps or helped them to escape. If you helped them, you were in just as much danger as those who were persecuted. You could not do much, but you tried everything humanly possible to help. In the beginning we were not well-received. The children even threw stones at us. Yes, we were intruders and people did not know how to deal with us. But when they got to know us, everything turned wonderful! The people were friendly to us and I was welcome in every house. Today, it is perhaps also similar, I don’t know. I always think, one is able to communicate. Talk to each other decently, reasonably. But in reality, people often talk over each other, confusedly. One can discuss everything and also accept different opinions. You don’t always have to insist your opinion is right. I don’t think individuals can do anything, because if you want to state your opinion somewhere as an individual person, you will be laughed at or looked at with disapproval. If I could dream of something, then I would want that there is peace always and everywhere in the world. Otherwise, I wish of nothing at all. Because I think war is the worst that can happen to people. That is something I can only dream of. We are old, but it is still important; for the children, for our descendants, for everyone, for all humans.
Anonymous, born in Yugoslavia.