BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Magnus Wennman is an award-winning photojournalist from Stockholm. He recently published a heart-breaking photo series that shows what is happening to the children in the Middle East as they flee from the conflict in Syria.
According to BoredPanda, he captured the photos by travelling throughout the regions where these children and their families are fleeing. Now, he’s telling their harrowing stories in a photo series called “Where The Children Sleep.”
Wennman took the photos for the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet. He says that while the conflict and crisis might be difficult to understand, there is nothing difficult to understand about how children need a safe place to sleep.
According to Aftonbladet, more than two million children are fleeing from this war that has been going on for five years, leaving behind their friends, their homes and their beds.
The series is gut-wrenchingly sad. It takes a controversial topic, strips away the ignorance, the fallacies, the hatred, and leaves the bare bones of the situation – the innocent families, the children who have been forced out of their homes, and out of their childhoods. You can see the pain and fear in these children’s eyes, and it will break your heart, but also hopefully help you see the situation from a different side.
Fara – 2 years old – Azraq
“Fara, 2, loves soccer. Her dad tries to make balls for her by crumpling up anything he can find, but they don’t last long. Every night, he says goodnight to Fara and her big sister Tisam, 9, in the hope that tomorrow will bring them a proper ball to play with. All other dreams seem to be beyond his reach, but he is not giving up on this one.”
Maram – 8 years old – Amman
“Eight-year-old Maram had just come home from school when the rocket hit her house. A piece of the roof landed right on top of her. Her mother took her to a field hospital, and from there she was airlifted across the border to Jordan. Head trauma caused a brain hemorrhage. For the first 11 days, Maram was in a coma. She is now conscious, but has a broken jaw and can’t speak.”
Moyad – 5 years old – Amman
“Moyad, 5, and his mother needed to buy flour to make a spinach pie. Hand in hand, they were on their way to the market in Dar’a. They walked past a taxi in which someone had placed a bomb. Moyad’s mother died instantly. The boy, who has been airlifted to Jordan, has shrapnel lodged in his head, back and pelvis.
Lamar – 5 years old – Horgos, Serbia
“Back home in Baghdad, the dolls, the toy train, and the ball are left; Lamar often talks about these items when home is mentioned. The bomb changed everything. The family was on its way to buy food when it was dropped close to their house. It was not possible to live there anymore, says Lamar’s grandmother, Sara. After two attempts to cross the sea from Turkey in a small, rubber boat, they succeeded in coming here to Hungary’s closed border. Now Lamar sleeps on a blanket in the forest, scared, frozen, and sad.”
Tamam – 5 years old – Azraq
“Five-year-old Tamam is scared of her pillow. She cries every night at bedtime. The air raids on her hometown of Homs usually took place at night, and although she has been sleeping away from home for nearly two years now, she still doesn’t realize that her pillow is not the source of danger.”
Shiraz – 9 years old – Suruc
“Shiraz, 9, was three months old when she was stricken with a severe fever. The doctor diagnosed polio and advised her parents to not spend too much money on medicine for the girl who ”didn’t have a chance.” Then the war came. Her mother, Leila, starts crying when she describes how she wrapped the girl in a blanket and carried her over the border from Kobane to Turkey. Shiraz, who can’t talk, received a wooden cradle in the refugee camp. She lies there. Day and night.”
Shehd – 7 years old
“Shehd loves to draw, but more recently, all of her drawings have had the same theme: weapons. “She saw them all the time, they are everywhere,” explains her mother when the little girl sleeps on the ground alongside Hungary’s closed border. Now she does not draw at all. The family brought neither paper nor crayons with them on their flight. Shehd does not play anymore either. The escape has forced children to become adults and share concern for what happens in an hour or a day. The family has had difficulty finding food during their wandering. Some days, they have had to make do with apples they were able to pick from trees along the road. If the family had known how hard the journey would be, they would have chosen to risk their lives in Syria.”
Abdullah – 5 years old – Belgrade, Serbia
“Abdullah has a blood disease. For the last two days, he has been sleeping outside of the central station in Belgrade.
He saw the killing of his sister in their home in Daraa. “He is still in shock and has nightmares every night,” says his mother. Abdullah is tired and is not healthy, but his mother does not have any money to buy medicine for him.”
Mahdi – 1 ½ years old – Horgos/Roszke
“Mahdi is one and one half years old. He has only experienced war and flight. He sleeps deeply despite the hundreds of refugees climbing around him. They are protesting against not being able to travel further through Hungary. On the other side of the border, hundreds of police are standing. They have orders from the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to protect the border at every cost. The situation is becoming more desperate and the day after the photo is taken, the police use tear gas and water cannons on the refugees.”