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Hiba Dlewati

Hiba Dlewati is a Syrian American journalist and writer who will be spending nine months moving throughout Jordan, Turkey and Sweden to document and narrate the stories of the Syrian diaspora. The Syrian social uprising turned international conflict has been described as the worst humanitarian crisis of the century by the United Nations. As the conflict enters its fifth year, more than half of the Syrian population is displaced, and many are risking their lives in hopes of building a better future for themselves in Europe. Hiba will use multimedia storytelling to share snapshots of the diaspora’s everyday realities, expressing the frustrations and triumphs of a people without a place, or perhaps, a people of many places.

Asylum Seekers Stranded in Swedish Bureaucracy

Malmö, Sweden — Imad Al-Tamimi teaches Swedish in the same classrooms he wasn’t allowed to attend as a student. “It’s a paradox,” says the 32-year-old teacher. “I can walk into the new arrival’s language course, but only as a teacher. I am not allowed to enter as a student, because I am not considered a refugee.” Al-Tamimi…

Catering to a Diaspora: Syrians Bring Flavor of Home to Sweden

Malmö, Sweden — “Food may be able to bring us together,” said Yousef Awad. “We have different opinions, but we can agree on a Syrian dish.” Awad is the manager of Tanoor, a recently opened Syrian restaurant in Malmö. The 38-year-old father brings with him a history of hospitality, and loss. More than 40 percent of…

“We’re all scattered now”

Kristianstad, Sweden — He waves as I get off the train, red gym bag slung over his shoulder. It’s Jamal, one of the Syrians who inspired this trip through Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden. We’d met on a former detainees’ support group in 2012. The online forum provided Syrians detained by the government after the social uprising…

Trapped in Greece: “Syria’s war has walked with us”

“We don’t know our destiny,” said Um Safwan, trying to speak to me through the barbed wire fence of Moria detention center. The 48-year-old mother is one of thousands trapped in the detention center – formerly used as a refugee registration camp – on the Greek island of Lesvos. Um Safwan’s three children had passed through…

Pushed Across The Border: When Europe Is Not a Choice

Jordan — She was one of the first welcoming faces I met in Jordan, and the only familiar one. We had met five years ago in Damascus, on the streets of what was then a peaceful uprising against the Assad regime. We would discuss locations for protests, and meet before dawn to hang the anti-government flag in…

For Syrians, There Is No Such Thing as an Open Border

Kilis, Izmir – Turkey —  “I am suffocating.” It’s the sentence I hear the most when interviewing Syrians. Traveling throughout several Turkish cities in the past few weeks, it is now visibly clear that the noose is indeed tightening on Syrians in bordering countries. However, these new limitations may be driving more Syrians to head to Europe…

He Bought Them Lunch. They Learned How To Read.

Reyhanli, Turkey — Early in the morning and late at night, sounds of shelling from across the mountain disrupt the seemingly tranquil border town. “If you’d been here a few nights earlier, when the Russians were bombing, you would have felt the whole ground shake,” Waled Dabak tells me inside his Reyhanli home. “The entire city…

Why Are Syrian Aid Workers Leaving for Europe?

Gaziantep, Turkey — Frustration. In a city that has become known for its dynamic activist community, weariness is starting to show in a network that has been stretched by donor fatigue, occupational burnout, and the opportunity of starting over far away. Located only 50 kilometers away from the Syrian border and home to more than 200,000 refugees, Gaziantep has…

For Syrians, Turkey Can Be a Station, or Home

Turkey–I can’t help but smile when the plane lands in Istanbul. I have a layover before heading south to Gaziantep, and one of the first things I always do is go to my favorite Syrian restaurant in Taksim. You can get a decently sized fresh juice there for less than $2, and the ritual reminds me of…

Syrian Refugees Face a Medical Crisis in Jordan

Amman, Jordan — Most of the doctors have started to go home, so we find an empty hospital staff room to sit down. Coffee or tea? Dr. Mohammad* closes the door behind us. The 40-year-old orthopedic surgeon is one of many Syrian doctors working illegally in Jordan since the conflict next door erupted five years ago.…

Verses in Exile: Syrian Rapper Turns War Into Art

Amman, Jordan — “War changes things—your mentality, the way you think, it can mess with your head,” says Mouneer Bu Kolthoum, leaning back into a black leather chair at his home office. “Subconsciously you are hit, and your mind starts to play on loop.” The 24-year-old music producer and rapper from Damascus, Syria, moved to Jordan…

“To Ask For Bread? No One Should Have To Do That.”

Amman, Jordan — The aroma of fresh bread wafts out of the bustling Al-Houri Bakery in the Tabarbour neighborhood of Amman. Established in 1991, the bakery is one of largest in the neighborhood, and is recognized for its traditional Syrian pastries. Ibrahim Al-Houri, the owner, sits at a desk behind the shelves lined with different kinds…

Syrian Refugees Publish Their Own Magazine

Zaatari Camp, Jordan — “We know the camp’s problems because we live here,” says 19-year-old Mohamad Heraki, outside of a tent hosting a photography workshop. Heraki is part of a growing team of journalists based in the Zaatari refugee camp who produce the camp’s only magazine, The Road. Launched in May 2014 by the Japanese Emergency NGO (JEN),…

For This Jordanian Family, Refugees Are Always Welcome

Zaatari, Jordan –It is not unusual for Tomaa Al-Khaldi to host guests without an appointment. If anything, it has become a way of life for the 58-year-old father and bakery-owner of Zaatari village. Located in Jordan’s northern Mafraq province, the small village’s population inflated with the arrival of approximately 79,000 Syrian refugees residing in the next-door Zaatari Camp.…

Grieving Father Grows Hope in Zaatari Garden

Zaatari Camp, Jordan — Mohammad Al-Hariri ushers me into his small convenience store, adjusting his hearing aid. “It’s too loud out there,” he says, nodding at the children running out of the school gates near by. The trailer turned store is dark but for some light coming in from the open door; the camp only has electricity…