They first appear as small, undefinable spots on the horizon. Nobody knows exactly when and where they will appear — but what IS certain is that they keep coming. Several dozen times a day.
Within an hour, usually, those spots begin to come into focus. Those spots are humans. Fifty heads – side by side. Fifty stories, tragedies and dreams clustered in small black rubber dinghies, which set sail from the Turkish coast towards Europe. They escape from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, fleeing war, fear and poverty. For some, these couple of kilometers of the Aegean Sea will be the most expensive journey of their lives.
They don’t carry much with them – as much as you can put in a rucksack or bag. On the shores of the Greek island Lesvos, nobody waits for these people — apart from a dozen volunteers and several photographers. Many people see this first contact with Europe as a rebirth. They rejoice in the help that they receive in the beginning of a new, better life.
But maybe they don’t think about the real journey, which is just beginning. A journey in which their identities, their reasons for escaping, once again become a blur.
For at least several weeks, these people will become a shapeless migration mass, associated by EU countries with “imposed quota policies”, a dangerous, foreign wave of immigrants flooding Europe. They will face weeks of waiting, arduous journeys on foot, by train, bus. They will experience bleak conditions, uncertainty, humiliation and pain.
But their persistence will endure. Hope and faith for a new life in the Promised Land is stronger than the grief over what they left behind.
The most popular destination of this exhaustive journey is Germany, a country which did not limit the number of refugees crossing its borders.
I want to document this odyssey with the hope that, in the end, these refugees will find their efforts and sacrifices are rewarded by the knowledge that human rights are dispensed equally.
This is an ongoing project.