It’s not the waiting that is destroying Hafiz Abdalla, although existing in the strange limbo between asylum seeker and German resident is constantly disorienting. It is how no one seems aware of the violence in Sudan, the lack of news coverage of the war, and his inability to communicate in German. It’s a collection of things that gain weight the way an object seems to when sinking.
Caitlin L. Chandler and I recently spent some time in Hannover, Germany, at a protest camp created by Sudanese refugees. While the organizers don’t live at the camp, sometimes refugees without a place to go stay over night. Sitting under one of the tattered tents and listening to their stories, I’m transported to Sudan. I think to myself, these individuals have come so far and given so much to end up in a place that feels a lot like what they were trying to leave. Caitlin’s article in Vice offers a story that I think is too absent in the media.
Hafiz Abdalla is a political activist in Hannover, Germany, where he is one of several organizers of a camp to protest the treatment of Sudanese refugees and question Germany’s diplomacy towards the Sudanese government.
Ali Ahmed from South Kordofan, Sudan, left the country in 2005. Ahmed received asylum in Italy but left because he was unable to make a living. He's been deported once from Germany. Back in Italy, he slept in a car for two weeks and then returned to Germany.
Khadija Noor from Northern Darfur lives on the outskirts of Hannover with her three children.
Hafiz Abdalla filed for asylum in June 2014, well before the current crisis; he has yet to receive an answer.
Inside the communal kitchen at the protest camp started in May 2014 in Hannover, Germany.
Inside a tent at the protest camp started in May 2014 in Hannover, Germany.
Mohammed Said Mustafa, 36, from North Kortum, Darfur, came to live in Germany after four years in Belgium where he says his claim for asylum was denied.
Several Sudanese men gather to talk about their current immigration situation at the camp.
Mohammed Said Mustafa says his application for asylum was denied in Belgium and strangers helped him arrive to Germany where he now lives in a home for the blind among mostly Germans.
Hafiz Abdalla cooks lunch at his apartment in Hannover, Germany. Abdalla lives in a small apartment he shares with four other men and receives 360 euros ($400) a month from the government, 150 of which he sends to family in Sudan.
An advent calendar filled with chocolates, some eaten out of order, sits on the counter in Hafiz Abdalla's apartment.
I recently collaborated with Xanthe Ackerman and Molly Bernstein of the Fuller Project for International Reporting to tell Raghad’s story for Foreign Affairs. Raghad is one of thousands of teenage Syrian girls in Turkey whose education was disrupted by the war. Once in Turkey, Syrians face many decisions regarding their children’s education: to send them to government schools where language and discrimination can be an obstacles or to enroll their children in private Arabic-language schools that can often be cost prohibitive. Some families cannot send their children to school and rely on their income to live.
Among the 1.4 million school-aged children who have fled to neighboring countries, 700,000 do not attend school.
Raghad says she is fortunate that her family can send her to an Arabic-language school, but she admits nervousness when it comes to her future. She wants to go to university but doesn’t know how it will be paid for, where she will study or what language she will study in.
After seeing this photo of Alex Assali serving food to Berlin’s homeless on Facebook, my friend and colleague Caitlin L. Chandler and I went to meet him. We were fortunate that he shared his story with us. Here’s how we told his inspiring tale for Al Jazeera.
I met Vishnu on the morning of his wedding, one month after the earthquake in Nepal . He sat drinking tea, smiling and waiting for his bride to arrive. He showed me his new tattoo. It read “Anju”. The “J” was dotted with a heart. Both Vishnu and Anju’s homes were destroyed in the quake. Anju was living with her family in a tent. Vishnu’s friend urged him not to get married, it was a painful and dark time in the country. But Vishnu says his heart told him something else.
Anju’s parents had promised her to another man, but she chose Vishnu. Anju arrived at Bhadrakali Temple in Kathmandu the morning of May 20. While Vishnu finished his tea, she slipped on her rented red wedding gown in the back of the teahouse with the help of a friend. The priest prepared the temple for the ceremony, sprinkling bright yellow flower petals on the floor.
Then, without their families knowing, seated under the roof of the temple Vishnu and Anju became husband and wife.
Three days after the wedding, an aftershock struck.
“Everyone ran out of house screaming,” Vishnu says. “Anju was holding my hand tightly. I kissed her on the forehead, then she fell asleep again. It gave me the thought that nothing can harm you if someone is there loving you, caring for you.”
Back in August I spent a few days in Tirana, Albania, photographing a travel story for the New York Times. Here are a few of the pictures that didn’t make it into the print edition. During the trip I met some of the most down-to-earth and inspiring people I’ve met in a while – cafe owners, winemakers and cooks. Thanks for making my visit so enjoyable.
People pass by the Pyramid in Tirana, Albania. The Pyramid was opened as a museum to commemorate the late ruler Hoxha. After the collapse of communism it served as a conference center and even became a NATO office during the conflict with Kosovo.
The Komiteti Cafe and Museum in Tirana, Albania, was started by Arber Cepani and features relics from Albania's past, like these wall hangings that Cepani says are found in every home in Albania. Cepani, the son of an Albanian diplomat who spent about 20 years living abroad, says he believes it is important to know the history of your country and learn from it. For the younger generation, the cafe is a place to learn about the communist past. For the older generation Cepani says it is pure nostalgia.
Flori Uka is a winemaker that runs Uka Farm, his family's farm that produces fruits and vegetables for use in their restaurant just outside of Tirana, Albania.
Radio Bar in Tirana, Albania, is known for its cocktails and good music. The bar often hosts live musicians and DJs.
Arios Banushi, 10, (left) and his younger brother Albi Banushi, 5, ride the Dajti Express in Tirana, Albania, up the side of Mount Dajti. The Banushis are from Tirana and were visiting the cable car with their grandparents. The journey takes 15 minutes and is the longest cableway in the Balkans.
View of Tirana, Albania, looking toward Rinia Park and Skanderberg Square from Sky Tower.
Barista Iris Ibro works at Komiteti Cafe and Museum in Tirana, Albania. The cafe was started by Arber Cepani and features relics from Albania's past.
Hyrie Hoxha plants green beans at Uka Farm in Tirana, Albania. The farm produces vegetables and fruits that are used in the farm's restaurant. Flori Uka, who runs the family farm, also makes biodynamic wines that are served at the restaurant.
The mosaic on the front of the National Historical Museum in Tirana, Albania, depicts a tribute to Albanian history from the Illyrians to World War II partisans.
Uka Farm in Tirana, Albania
Customers pick a spot to eat dinner while looking out at the vineyard at Uka Farm in Tirana, Albania.
Many apartment buildings throughout Tirana, Albania, are painted in bright colors after Edi Rama (former mayor of Tirana and now primer minister of Albania) led an initiative to brighten post-communist Albania. This building is in the Xhamlliku neighborhood.
Alma Verushi (left) and Laureta Verushi run Taverna e Kasap Beut in Tirana, Albania. One of their specialities is burek, a flaky pastry that can be filled with cheese, vegetables or meat.
Many government ministry buildings along Skanderbeg Square were designed by fascist-era Italian architects in the 1920s in Tirana, Albania.
Radio Bar in Tirana, Albania, is known for its cocktails and good music.