In pictures: Travelling Light by Kiki Streitberger

  • Published

Kiki Streitberger's images from her final project for an postgraduate documentary photography and photojournalism course at the University of Westminster show the personal possessions of migrants making the journey to Europe from Syria.

Ahmad 22, Stonemason

Image source, Kiki Streitberger

I got the striped shirt in Libya. Just outside the factory where I used to work was a little market where I found it. I love its colour. I remember wearing it on days out by the sea with my friends.

We spent nearly two years in Libya. We had hoped to return home to Syria, but the situation got worse and it was no longer safe to stay.

The t-shirt is from Zara. It cost me 25 Libyan Dinar. It was not cheap but it is good quality. I remember wearing it on many bus journeys to my parents' house. I was staying at the factory, so I only got to see my family at weekends.

The trousers were much darker when I bought them. They got bleached by the sun. I wore them and the shirt and the t-shirt on the boat. Not because I decided to wear them - just because I happened to be wearing them when the smuggler came to pick us up. There was no time to get changed or to think what to take.

I only picked up my mobile. I wrapped it in a plastic bag and had it in my pocket during the whole journey. I still use it, but now I have a smartphone as well. I need it to phone my finance in Egypt. I'm hoping to be back together with her soon.

And the ring? I've had it for about a year. I bought it at a gold market in Tripoli. I used to wear it all the time. It used to have a black stone but I lost that in Germany.

Iman, 40, Housewife

Image source, Kiki Streitberger

The dress is called an abaya and I got it about two years ago in Libya. We lived there before we came to Germany. It was too dangerous to stay in Syria.

I wore the abaya mainly at home or when I went to see the neighbours. I like the colour but it is not formal enough to wear in public. I chose to wear it on the boat because it is light and comfortable.

I wore it with a hijab. I had three with me on the boat but this one is the only one I have left. I particularly like the design - it goes with many things.

The photos I had wrapped in plastic to keep them dry during the journey. They are of my husband and my children. The pictures were taken back home in Syria.

The '50-Euro Napkin' was given to me by my friend Ahlam. She made me promise to never throw it away. It always reminds me of her.

The prayer beads are from Sayyidh Ruqayya, a holy shrine in Damascus. One day we visited the mosque and I bought the beads from a small stall by the entrance. We often went there to pray for health and protection. It is a place where you feel good... you feel closer to god and safe.

I brought the beads on this journey for protection and used them to pray on the ship.

The journey was very dangerous. We spent two days on a small, rickety boat in the middle of the sea, all 520 of us. Then we were saved by a rescue ship and we arrived in Italy safely.

Asmaa, 36, Home Economics Teacher

Image source, Kiki Streitberger

The prayer dress is a gift from my mother. I got it while the children and I stayed with her in Latakiya. I had another one in Damascus but when our house got destroyed everything we had was lost.

My mum had bought this some time before we came to stay. It was in her wardrobe and was intended for a trip to Mekka. But when she saw that I had no clothes to pray in she opened the wardrobe and gave me hers.

I pray five times a day. Once in the morning, once at lunchtime, once at 5pm, when the sun sets and at night.

On the journey I didn't pray. I kept the dress in a bag - and when I threw the bag away in Italy, I put it in another one to keep it safe. It means a lot to me. Not just because I need it to pray - it also reminds me of my mum who is still in Syria. I worry for her.

The cream I used for my hands and face, because we travelled on the back of a pick-up truck in the desert for several days and I used it to protect myself from the heat and the sun and the sand. I was black from the sun. It was so hot. I didn't use the sun cream for myself, I gave that to my children to protect them, so all I had was this.

Also, in the desert while looking for a place to go the toilet in the dark I tripped and fell on the stones and I cut myself on the knee. I also used the cream for that cut. The trousers were ripped, but everything else was ok.

I kept myself strong for the children. I didn't want them to see that I fell and that I was scared and tired. I wanted them to see that I was strong and that everything was going to be ok.

Mohammad, 32, Computer Programmer

Image source, Kiki Streitberger

I bought the jacket and the jeans in a shop in my hometown Hama about six years ago. I love the jeans but the jacket I never wore much in Syria.

I brought it with me because it is very warm and I knew it was going to be cold on the boat.

The boat I travelled on was just a small fishing boat, but there were 500 people travelling on it - about 200 in the basement and the rest of us on deck. After 13 hours we were picked up by an Italian military ship and taken to Foggia.

From there I travelled to France and had intended to go to Sweden where my brother lives, but I was caught in Kiel so I stayed in Germany.

The belt is about four years old. I always wear a belt.

The prayer beads are called Misbaha.

They were my mother's. She got them in Egypt about five years ago and she used to carry them in her handbag. About six months ago she gave them to me. I use them to pray. I miss my mum and I think of her when I hold the beads.

I hope my parents and my sisters will be coming here too - or even better, I hope the war will be over soon and I can return home.

Hecmet, 49, Housewife

Image source, Kiki Streitberger

I bought the fabric for this jalaba in the market in my hometown, Daraa. It has one of the best markets in Syria and people come from all over the country to shop there. We used to live just by the market so it was very convenient for me. The outfit was made to my specifications. I've had this jalaba since the beginning of the revolution in 2011. It travelled with me from Syria to Lebanon, then to Egypt, to Libya, to Italy and to Germany.

I also wore the hijab on the ship. I bought it in Libya just before the journey. I like how it looks, the little beads on the end. It is the correct and traditional headdress for a Muslim woman.

The falafel maker is from my kitchen in Syria.

I didn't expect to find one abroad....and the phone... that is just a memory now.

I kept the books in a plastic bag to protect them from water while we were on the ship. They are Hadiths - books of reports of what the Prophet Muhammad did or advised in certain situations. The dark one is about life in general and the red one contains the Prophet's recommendations on health and hygiene. It is a wonderful book.

My son gave me the gold watch. He was was in the Free Syrian Army. One day they came across a hidden stash of stolen gold and jewellery. They couldn't locate the owners so they distributed the items among the people - and he gave this watch to me. This was a bit more than two years ago. The watch is nice, but I was always hoping that I would find the rightful owner and give it back. I'm in Germany now, but I haven't given up hope that one day I will find her.

I feel comfortable here but I feel like it is my duty to be with the ones that are dying and who might be needing my help. I wanted to do better things for my country but I also have 10 children and a husband who need me here.