It’s hard to scale my thoughts down into a single post, from my time with displaced refugees in Greece. The interviews were eye opening and heart breaking. I tried to prepare for what I was walking into, but found myself sitting with a recorder listening to hours of unimaginable stories.
A father who had turned into a “radical” muslim, determined his daughter must leave her Christian husband. When she refused her own father tied her up, beat her and threatened her and her husband’s life. Her father had her husband arrested and she fed for her life. All while 7 months pregnant. She had her baby within days of arriving by boat to Greece.
In one interview I thought I was interviewing a man, when he revealed to me he was a transgender woman by writing it on a piece of paper during his interview. He wrote, “I am not man.” He then continued to share his story of how he was tortured by ISIS and the day before he was to be thrown from a building, a bomb hit the jail. He fled by foot all the way to Greece and still has a swollen face from the horrible experience.
Once I did a few interviews, other people started asking if they could also share their stories. It felt like I was traveling to Africa, the Middle East and back again in a single day. I found myself having coffee with the sweetest grandparents from Iraq, who haven’t seen their children in over eight years. She was dying of cancer and he was in pain from being tortured for not sharing where his children were.
Then I met two young men, (kept unnamed) reminded me of my little brother. The one speaking in the video I changed his name to Abdul for his safety. They were young, full of life and excited for their futures. Back in Syria Abdul was a journalist. Both are from the same area in Syria, but didn’t know each other. But becoming refugees, they felt like on a positive note, brought their fate together as best friends, as they showed me their cross-fit gym in a metal container.
Determined to help with the refugee crisis, everyday they help a local non-profit distribute clothing and care to other refugees and their families. It would be hard to tell that these two energetic boys are living in horrible camp conditions and had lost everything, even their families.
Abdul was my last interview during my time in Greece and on my flight out I couldn’t stop thinking of his possible future. How he’s at risk of being taken back to Syria and would be forced to get involved in rebel troops. The very rebel troops maybe even my own brother is fighting on his year long deployment. I felt tears in my eyes and an overwhelming amount of emotion I had not expected.
I believe until you have listened to the stories of a refugee, your heart has not been opened to the world. Please...listen. #WorldRefugeeDay
Thank you for taking the time to read the stories of refugees in Greece. This was shot during my time with Carry The Future.
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Tara Shupe is a humanitarian & outdoor photographer, storyteller and positive influencer. Or at least tries to be! She believes through global awareness we can all be inspired to make a difference!