Participants of the 8th edition of Brave Kids are represented by the face of 12 year old Tahani.
“My name is Tahani, and I was born in Ar-Raqqah, Syria. I grew up there, went to school there, had many friends there. After school, I used to hang out with my friends, and play outside. I loved it. I loved school, I loved the freedom that we had. When the war started, everything changed. We had to leave our little flat, school, friends… we left everything behind. My little dreams, left somewhere there, in shreds. We went across the mountains, to Lebanon, searching for security. I didn’t know anything about that place. How is it over there? What is going to happen with us? Now, we live in a tent. I work on a potato field. I’m alive, but I’m not living. We suffer.”
Natalia Salloum from Wroclaw is the author of the photo. During the photography project that Natalia created in March 2017, Tahani Mohammad and other participants were given a piece of paper and asked to write their story.
One day, I went to the tent of Tahani’s family. We talked, and her father prepared Arabic coffee for us. Tahani came back with a group of other kids. We were sitting in a circle and trying to remember old children’s stories from Syria. Those children made up a story, a Syrian fairytale, a metaphor: “Once upon a time, there was a little mouse, called Layla. She used to live in a little house, on a beautiful field of flowers, with her family, and her friends, the bird and the rabbit. Every day, they used to play outside, hide-and-seek between the stems and leaves. One day, while Layla, Rabbit and Bird were searching for a new places to play, the sky got grey and it started to rain. They got scared of the darkness, and ran towards home. But the wind was too strong and destroyed the roof. They struggled all night, and when the storm went by, and the new morning sun appeared, they rushed to fix the broken roof. And suddenly, they heard the noise of three enormous tractors approaching the field of flowers, plowing the ground. In panic, they left everything and ran towards the mountains. It got colder, and when they looked back, there was nothing left from the beautiful field. So they walked, walked, walked through the mountains, hoping to find another beautiful ground that they could settle on. They were cold, and the little mice were crying, because their feet were hurt from the rocks… until they found a valley. But there were no flowers. Just dust and dirt. The sun was going down, and they didn’t want to spend the night on the streets, so they collected the trash and built a tiny tent just for the night. Still now they live in this tent. Life goes on, and Layla still plays outside, hide-and-seek, with the other mice that had to run from the field.”