So much of war is viewed through the lens of politics and violence: men behind podiums and men with guns. Rarely do we see women and the heroic roles they play at the forefront of war—leaving their homes in search of better lives for their children, keeping families intact, caring for children and the elderly, earning an income when male breadwinners are fighting, imprisoned, or killed.
In January 2016, we launched production on the documentary project She Is Syria, traveling to Germany and Greece to document the stories of women and girl refugees through film, photography, and social media.
Many of the women we spoke to were traveling alone with children. The stories they had to tell were often disturbing and difficult to take in. Like 28-year-old Sahar from Syria who has no idea whether her husband is dead or alive—he was arrested by Assad's secret police three years ago. Determined to survive, she made the journey to Germany alone with her 3-year-old daughter, traveling by foot, bus, and train, braving freezing temperatures, and paying smugglers for safe passage across borders. Sahar's courage and sense of purpose awed us.
These women are not victims, they're heroes. Each draws upon her own strength, agency, and holds fast to dreams for her future. Here are their stories.More
We met Abir and her mother, Aveen, outside the official Moria camp on Lesvos, Greece (you can see the barbed-wire fences in the background behind her). Abir was sweet and soft-spoken and never far from her mother's side. They had just made the boat trip to the island that morning, along with her brother, leaving at midnight and arriving at 6 a.m. Abir's father died from heart complications several years ago.
Aveen is the kind of matriarch you trust implicitly. Friendly and open, she invited us to sit down next to the wood-burning stove their group was huddled around. Remembering her home, she says, "I was happy in my house, in my country. During the war, my house was bombed and completely demolished. It was not a home any more... What I want for Syria: I want the war to stop, to go back to my country. I hope that God will solve this problem." She and her children made it to Germany and are now living at a refugee camp in Hamburg.