Women present photographs from home and reflect on the past they left behind — as well as their hopes for a brighter future.
My name is Nour and I am 27 years old. I am from a town near Damascus, Syria. I studied pharmacy, but it was hard because the war began soon after I started university. Many times we could not go, sometimes for months. It was too dangerous. I saw my parents afraid for the first time. I thought then: I could lose my family.
I worked with displaced children, holding workshops and dance lessons. I always believed that if we could save the young generation, the children, they could save our country. We spoke a lot, we played a lot and we asked a lot of questions. Why had we ended up with war? Why were we fighting each other? Could they think of a solution? What does it mean to be Syrian? I left Syria in 2017. If I have a wish it is that we can rebuild our country. It is completely destroyed, not only the buildings, but people and souls. But something I learnt here in Austria is to be more rational. To analyze the problems. To think about reasons and solutions. That’s why I don’t just wish for peace. It is about more. It is like medicine — it is not about treating the results, it is about treating the reasons.
In Vienna, I was so lucky, I found so many nice people around me. I started to learn German and work as a babysitter. From the first moment they trusted me because they believed in my humanity, believed in me as a person. And now, after six months, they consider me as a friend.
They said it was not enough that I was safe here — they needed to save my mind and my dreams. That’s why sometimes I stand near the Danube and I think: I am really grateful.
Nour, 27, pictured in Damascus, Syria, before she fled to Austria. © UNHCR/Stefanie J. Steindl