Award-winning photojournalist Magnus Wennman has recently unveiled a photo series that reveals the actual situation of the kids in Syria as they escape the conflict and flee to neighboring European countries. Called Where the Children Sleep, the photo series was completed after he traveled throughout different regions in the Middle East.
In an interview with CNN, Wennman said that the crisis and the turmoil can be difficult for people to understand. “But there is nothing hard to understand about how children need a safe place to sleep. That is easy to understand,” he added. “They have lost hope. It takes very much for a child to stop being a child and to stop having fun, even in really bad places.”
Here are some heartwrenching shots included in the photo series:
Five-year-old Abdullah has a blood disease. He has been sleeping outside the central station of Belgrade, Serbia, for the last two days. “He witnessed how his sister was killed in their home. “He is still in shock and has nightmares every night,” explained his mother. Although the boy is unhealthy and tired, his mother cannot afford to buy medicine for him.
Eight-year-old Maram had just arrived from school when a rocket hit her house. Unfortunately, a piece of the roof hit her. She was then taken to a nearby hospital, and from there, she was airlifted across the border. Because of the impact, she suffered from brain hemorrhage. She was in a coma for 11 days. Even though she is now conscious, she can’t speak.
One day, 5-year-old Moyad went with his mother to buy flour to make a spinach pie. While on their way to the market, they walked past a taxi, in which somebody had planted a bomb. While his mother died on the spot, the boy survived and was airlifted to Jordan.
Ahmad was at home when a bomb hit their house in Idlib. He was hit by a fallen debris in the head, but he survived. Unfortunately, his younger brother didn’t. Now that they don’t have a home, they have no choice but to escape. Ahmad is now among the thousands of refugees sleeping on the road along the highway leading to the closed border of Hungary. When the photo was captured, it was the 16th day of their journey. According to the boy’s father, the family had slept in bus shelters, in the forest, and on the road.
Seven-year-old Shehd really loves to draw. However, her most recent drawings had a violent theme—weapons. “She saw them all the time, they are everywhere,” her mother explained. Now she no longer draws because the family hadn’t brought paper and crayons with them.
Shehd’s family has had troubles finding food during their escape. At some days, they had to fill their hungry stomachs with the apples they were able to pick from trees. If they only knew how tough it was going to be, they would have chosen to risk their lives back at home.
It is extremely hot, and the flies are crawling over on Juliana’s face. That was the scenario that Magnus saw before taking this photo. For two days, the 2-year-old girl’s family has been walking through Serbia.
Two-year-old Fara loves to play soccer. Her dad always makes time to create balls out of the things he finds. Every night, he says good night to her and to her big sister Tisam. He hopes that tomorrow, he’ll be able to get them a proper ball to play with.
Amir was born a refugee. Shahana, his mother, thinks her son was traumatized while in the womb. She said, “Amir has never spoken a single word.” They currently live in a plastic tent. However, the 20-month-old boy has no toys.
A severe fever hit Shiraz when she was still 3 months old. The doctor said she has polio. He advised her family not to spend all their money on medicine because the girl doesn’t have a chance. Then the war came. Leila, the mother of Shiraz, started crying as she recalled how she wrapped her 9-year-old in a blanket and carried her over the border.
Five-year-old Walaa had her own room in Aleppo. There, she never cried at bedtime. Now that she’s in the refugee camp, she is often seen crying every night. When asked why, her response was that nighttime is horrible.
Ralia and Rahaf
Ralia and Rahaf live on the streets of Beirut. They came from Damascus, where a bomb killed their brother and mother. Along with their father, the kids have been through a lot. Together, they sleep on cardboard boxes.
Most kids sleep early for they need it to stay healthy. However, 6-year-old Ahmed only sleeps in the grass. Whenever his family walks in the morning by foot, the young boy carries his own bag. His uncle said, “He is brave and only cries sometimes in the evenings.
When she was still in Baghdad, Lamar had all the toys she wanted—balls, toy trains, and dolls. But after an explosion, her life changed. Her family was about to go to the store to buy food when a bomb was dropped close to their house. Since it was no longer possible to live there, the family decided to cross the sea from Turkey to Hungary’s closed border. After two attempts, they finally succeeded. Now the little girl sleeps on a blanket in the forest.