through the eyes of a refugee

Gaining safety

but losing hope Hany fled first, followed a month later by the rest of his family. They paid a taxi driver to get them safely through the checkpoints, no questions asked, their


destination was an settlement

in informal Lebanon’s

Bekka Valley. Hany’s most important possession stuffed in his bag? His high school diploma and transcripts. “These are my life, my future. I left everything behind in Syria, but not these,” he says in a UNHCR web series

that documented his three- year life in the temporary settlement.

The Al Moliya family rented a piece of land in the settlement and began living in their one-room homemade shelter.

Other extended

members were close by. At first, they thought they would be there only temporarily, but soon acknowledged there was no

going home. The

realization that they were refugees sank in; then the growing possibility that they could spend many years in this settlement hung like a cloud over their lives. Going from a busy life full of friends, activities and school work, Hany became depressed and listless. “It’s not the life in the tented settlement that entraps me,” he says in the video. “I am not worried about hunger and cold. I am worried about the entrapment I feel inside.”


Then Hany received a phone call from UNHCR inviting him to a two-week photography and writing workshop. Brendan Bannon, a photojournalist from New York taught the course, titled “Do You See What I See?” Already interested in photography, Hany had been taking photos


Syria on his cell phone. This, despite the fact

that he was diagnosed in

childhood with a visual impairment known as nystagmus. Hany is legally blind and can only see things


they are extremely close, yet he is a talented photographer and writer.

© UNHCR/ Hany

18 / UNHCR

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