Middle East

Syrian Journey: What would you take with you?

People fleeing war in Syria have to make difficult decisions and face life-changing dilemmas on their journey to find a better life. But is there something you just couldn't you leave behind?

Using the hashtags: #whatwouldyoutake and #SyrianJourney we want you to share your answers with text, images and/or video as part of the BBC Arabic project exploring migration from Syria.

We are going to make a documentary from your responses, so we look forward to what you have to say.

These objects were carried by migrants who survived the perilous journey from Syria. Here the survivors explain why they chose the object and what it means to them.

INTERACTIVE
  • Ibrahim and the balloon

    ×

    I had heard from people who tried to flee before that I shouldn’t take any valuables with me. So I didn’t take anything except cash. My cousin told me that I should take a balloon and he gave me one. He advised me that I should put my money inside it to keep it dry if I had to cross the sea. I have kept this balloon all this time. It reminds me of my cousin. He is the same age as me. He even has the same name as me. He was killed in Idlib province by artillery fire two months after I left Syria.

  • Firas and the whistle

    ×

    The only thing I brought with me from Syria was a whistle. I trained as a sports teacher in Damascus. My coach, who was also a great friend of mine, gave me this whistle in 2008 when I qualified. It reminds me of my first day at work when I was young and happily employed. It also reminds me of my coach. He was kidnapped in Damascus and later killed, even after his family paid a ransom.

  • Mamoud and the coins

    ×

    I used to collect a lot of old Syrian postal stamps and coins. I took these things because they were light and I could carry them. When I look at the stamps or at the coins now, they remind me of my father. I used to show them to him and he would tell me what they were worth (even though they are worthless now). These things remind me of when my country was safe.

  • Imad and the trombone

    ×

    I worked with the National Syrian Orchestra in Damascus. I brought a trombone; it’s my job and my life. This particular one was my first trombone that I bought with my own money. It reminds me of lots of things, mostly about my journey here. Here in the UK, I play with the Leeds University Orchestra. I have just got my refugee status and I would love to carry on working with them.

  • Wedding ring

    ×

    The smugglers told me to leave everything. They even made me leave my clothes and buy new ones to look more European; shorts and a t-shirt. The only thing I was able to keep with me was my Syrian ID and my wedding ring. These are the only things that matter most to me. A year after arriving here in the UK, I was able to be reunited with my wife and children.

  • Huthaifa and the shoes

    ×

    I hadn’t seen my mother for about 13 years. She went to the UK many years ago. Five years ago I bought a pair of shoes that I really liked. I promised myself I would only wear them when I saw my mother again. My journey was very long and difficult but when I arrived in Holland I applied for asylum and then applied for a visa to the UK. I wore the shoes for the first time in Manchester airport, just before I saw my mother.

  • Fairouz CD

    ×

    I brought a CD with me to the UK. My fiancee gave it to me when we were saying goodbye. It’s an album by Fairouz, one of the most famous singers in the Middle East. The title of the album is ‘Yes There is Hope’. I have applied for a visa for my fiancee, but it’s been refused. I hope that I will see her again one day.

  • Eyad and his wallet

    ×

    My wallet is the only thing that survived the two-year journey from Syria to the UK. I remember the day I bought it in 2010, in Al-Halboni market in the old city of Damascus. I bought it from a street merchant who had lots of wallets for different football teams. This wallet has been with me to many places. I was arrested by government forces for trying to deliver food to the people. It even followed me as I moved between prisons in Syria, from the secret service prison, to the military hospital prison and the military court.

Ibrahim and the balloon

I had heard from people who tried to flee before that I shouldn't take any valuables with me. So I didn't take anything except cash. My cousin told me that I should take a balloon and he gave me one. He advised me that I should put my money inside it to keep it dry if I had to cross the sea. I have kept this balloon all this time. It reminds me of my cousin. He is the same age as me. He even has the same name as me. He was killed in Idlib province by artillery fire two months after I left Syria.

Firas and the whistle

The only thing I brought with me from Syria was a whistle. I trained as a sports teacher in Damascus. My coach, who was also a great friend of mine, gave me this whistle in 2008, when I qualified. It reminds me of my first day at work when I was young and happily employed. It also reminds me of my coach. He was kidnapped in Damascus and later killed, even after his family paid a ransom.

Mamoud and the coins

Image copyright AP

I used to collect a lot of old Syrian postal stamps and coins. I took these things because they were light and I could carry them. When I look at the stamps or at the coins now, they remind me of my father. I used to show them to him and he would tell me what they were worth (even though they are worthless now). These things remind me of when my country was safe.

Imad and the trombone

I worked with the National Syrian Orchestra in Damascus. I brought a trombone; it's my job and my life. This particular one was my first trombone that I bought with my own money. It reminds me of lots of things, mostly about my journey here. Here in the UK, I play with the Leeds University Orchestra. I have just got my refugee status and I would love to carry on working with them.

Wedding ring

The smugglers told me to leave everything. They even made me leave my clothes and buy new ones to look more European; shorts and a t-shirt. The only thing I was able to keep with me was my Syrian ID and my wedding ring. These are the only things that matter most to me. A year after arriving here in the UK, I was able to be reunited with my wife and children.

Huthaifa and the shoes

I hadn't seen my mother for about 13 years. She went to the UK many years ago. Five years ago I bought a pair of shoes that I really liked. I promised myself I would only wear them when I saw my mother again. My journey was very long and difficult but when I arrived in Holland I applied for asylum and then applied for a visa to the UK. I wore the shoes for the first time in Manchester airport, just before I saw my mother.

Fairouz CD

I brought a CD with me to the UK. My fiancee gave it to me when we were saying goodbye. It's an album by Fairouz, one of the most famous singers in the Middle East. The title of the album is 'Yes There is Hope'. I have applied for a visa for my fiancee, but it's been refused. I hope that I will see her again one day.

Eyad and his wallet

My wallet is the only thing that survived the two-year journey from Syria to the UK. I remember the day I bought it in 2010, in Al-Halboni market in the old city of Damascus. I bought it from a street merchant who had lots of wallets for different football teams. This wallet has been with me to many places. I was arrested by government forces for trying to deliver food to the people. It even followed me as I moved between prisons in Syria, from the secret service prison, to the military hospital prison and the military court.

More from BBC Arabic's Syrian Journey project

Survivors' stories

Real stories from people who risked the journey from Syria. A Syrian refugee tells how he nearly drowned in a lorry of melted chocolate as he tried to enter the UK.

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