Home can mean different things to different people. To some, home is a smell, an object or a feeling, but to others, it may be food, a pet, or a piece of clothing. Regardless of what home means to you, everyone can agree that it’s meant to be a place of comfort and safety.
In honour of this year’s Refugee Week, we relaunched our Gallery of the (New) Home, an online exhibition that aims to explore the notion of ‘home’ by asking refugees, their friends and supporters to share their photos and stories.
Our Gallery of the (New) Home serves to create a conversation; while inspiring all of us to keep working together to help refugees around the world find a safe, new place they can call home.
This is #WhatHomeMeans to refugees and other displaced people….
My dog Roxy makes me feel at home when she meets me with hugs and her special “singing” greeting. She is the one who I miss the most when I’m away from home because she is my home.
Read more about Natalia’s story here: “It feels loving, comforting and safe – it’s a feeling I hope everyone gets to experience.” | UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk)
Rooted in B
Mum’s cooking to this day, as an adult with two pre-teenagers, I still see my mum as my home. This is not limited to visiting her at her place, but also when she comes over to visit us or stay. Her cooking can make any place a home for me. The aromas of her cooking fill up the space and turn it into a cosy and homey place, where I feel safe and happy. Her cooking even has that magical quality over my children, who thankfully have not had the same experiences as myself, but who are nomads nonetheless.
Read more about Rooted in B’s story here: ‘She feeds me, listens to my journeys and makes me feel right at home.’ | UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk)
When I first approached the photographer David Emery about taking an image of me for this project, we talked about how water was where I felt most at home. This was in spite of the fact that during my journey from Syria to the UK I was stranded in the sea for four hours after the boat I was in capsized. For me, this photograph represents how I have managed to turn my fear of water into a strength, by training as a swimmer since my arrival in the UK. Today, as soon as I dive in the water it becomes a place where I feel most at peace, and for that time that I’m in the water I feel free of my negative thoughts about the situation back home in Syria and the pain of missing my family and my home city of Damascus.
The photo shows reflections on my skin of water and of flowers in the home were I now live in London. The reflections represent the trauma of my journey from Syria but also the sense of positivity and hope I feel for a better future in the UK.
Read more about Eid’s story here: ‘When I’m in the water I feel free.’ | UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk)
The Jasmine flower in Damascus has its unique significance. Anyone who visits Damascus will notice how this particular flower is found everywhere in the city. The smell literally makes one fall in love with the city. Most of the locals will tell you that the Jasmine flower is what they love the most about the place. There are so many potential photos I could have sent, I found it hard to choose just one because everything reminds me of Syria for example, the sea, the sky, the water, and family. Especially the Eid holiday because I know for a fact that I will never be able to experience the joy and celebrate Eid as I used to in Syria.
Read more about Haya’s story here: The streets were paved with jasmine flowers | UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk)
Al-Arada Al-Shamiya – Syrian Traditional Clothing. The Syrian traditional clothing represents home for me. Although I couldn’t carry anything with me from Syria, I bought the costume after I settled in Exeter to remind me of the ancient and beautiful capital, Damascus. Whenever I wear it and show it to other people, I remember Syria before the conflict, and this is how I want people to always remember my country. I feel sad because my children didn’t know Syria like I did but I always encourage them to learn Arabic and I tell them bedtime stories about home and why we are here. I want my children to tell these stories to the next generations. I’m building my life here in Exeter and once I start my own business “Khaled’s Taste of Syria”, the employees and I will wear traditional costumes and serve Syrian food. I really want people to experience the unique cultural heritage of my home country. Home is a very big word and so is Syria; I don’t believe that any description could fit that word.
Read more about Khaled’s story here: Home is a very big word and so is Syria | UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk)
Home is like the window on a good or terrible day; in all seasons, it acts as a protective barrier and a glimpse of hope, as well as a place to remember, grieve, rejoice, and join together to raise new generations. It is the bridge between the inner and outside worlds. It is a place of meditation and observation, as well as the source of human transformation.
Read more about William’s story here: ‘I’m sure I’m not alone; like me, many refugees are haunted by the thought of their home.’ | UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk)
A glance into where I spend my cheerful moments during lockdown. I take my rope to the rooftop where I can jump and look at the beautiful views, the lovely windy sky, the mellow melody singing of birds, the laughter of my siblings moving around, and the tiny houses hidden behind trees make me feel at home and blessed. I spend hours moving around there…and when the noise dies down then I start to feel the cool wind in this piece of heaven I’ve discovered.
My mother’s embroidered flowers look like the garden we had. We have flowers in every corner of the house now.
This post is part two of a series.
Our Gallery of the (New) Home is now open for submissions. Visit our website and share what home means to you.