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Laughter in Darashakran Refugee Camp

Erbil

Iraq

Darashakran refugee camp, home to around 13,000 Syrian refugees, is located less than an hour drive from Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Conditions in the camp are dire with limited supplies of drinking water, overcrowding, and widespread poverty.

Darashakran Refugee Camp – October 2021

And yet, sadness is not all I saw there. On the contrary, when interacting with children living there I could see a fair dose of happiness. Almost as if they enjoyed their childhood in their own way. Maybe because they have forgotten what their lives looked like before their families lost everything to war in Syria. Or maybe because living in the camp is better than being in their own house but surrounded by bombs and shootings.

There are so many moments when I work with refugees where I feel like I am not making any impact because the scale of the suffering is just too big. But when I interact with children who despite growing up knowing nothing other than war and discrimination still manage to create their own happiness, I realise that even the simplest things like shaking someone’s hand or listening to their stories matter.

Because possibly one of the worst feelings in the world is the one of abandonment and, by simply showing that we care, all of us can make a difference.

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Katarzyna Rybarczyk

Political Correspondent for Immigration Advice Service, I write articles about the struggles of communities living in low and middle-income countries and I take photographs showing the reality of daily day life there and the emotions of people I meet.

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