Displacement and resilience

This project provides a view of the experience of some Ukrainian refugees in The Netherlands, within a local organization that supports them, Volunteers with no Limits, while also situating them within the broader global context of the refugee crisis.

This work depicts some individuals inside the organization, capturing in this way their momentary existence as displaced persons. 
In addition to the portraits, I conducted interviews with a range of individuals, including women, and elderly refugees. The personal stories shared by these individuals reveal the trauma, loss, and resilience that mark their experiences of displacement. Many have lost homes, family members, and communities to the conflict, and now face the challenge of rebuilding their lives in a new place, but with the desire to return home. Through the support of the organization, they have found a sense of community and a lifeline of hope.

I also decided to include elements that suggest a wider narrative. By doing so, I can provide viewers with a glimpse into the life of the refugees, while also highlighting the broader systemic issues that contribute to their situation. These objects, including for example old photos, clothing, postcards, and drawings offer a window into their past and present and provide a way to connect with their sense of identity and culture.

Through these images, I aim to inspire empathy and action towards supporting refugees and to raise awareness of the ongoing impact of war on civilians. By sharing their stories and experiences, I hope to encourage viewers to see beyond the headlines and to connect with the human stories that lie at the heart of the refugee crisis.

Natalia is 64, she’s good but she doesn’t have any work because it’s difficult to find a job at such an age. Further, everything is quite expensive in the Netherlands and there is not enough monetary support. 
Natalia lives in Amsterdam right now. She has 5 children, one is in Kyiv; one sadly is dead; one is on occupied territory and they are not keeping in touch; one is in Canada, and one is in The Netherlands for 10 months already.  
It was really hard and scary at the beginning for Natalia because when some noise occurred it reminds her of shelling and bombing and it was really tough to adapt.
A drawing illustrating military corps and doctors. They are depicted as angels because they are able to protect the Ukranians.
Kira and Hector.  
Kira is from Irpen. When the war started she remained in the basement of her house till March 5th, the day when she left the city under the shellings and shootings, bringing along only a few changes of clothes for Hector, her child. 
In the meantime, Ukrainians eradicated a bridge in Irpin so the Russians couldn’t reach Kyiv. The bridge was destroyed but there was a path possible only for people to cross. They walked through it thanks also to the help of volunteers. They reached the highway where there was a car was waiting for them. 
Kira left with her husband and kid. They decided to go to Lviv because it was more peaceful, and usually, the route takes 5-6 hours. On that day they reached the city in 3 days due to the enormous number of cars present and the fact they didn’t have enough fuel. They drove together from Irpin to Lviv, but ultimately her husband cannot cross the borders of Ukraine. 
During this time, her relatives’ houses were all destroyed, as well as cars, apartments, and her parents’ house. 

About being in The Netherlands Kira says: “If you come here as a tourist you like animals, and flowers, everything is beautiful, but if you are forced to come here, animals are not good for you, nothing is beautiful to you, because this is not your choice.”
After the start of the war, Kira and her family hid in the basement of their house
Kira’s father close to a Russian tank
When Kira and Hector were in Lviv they didn’t have any clothes, so they started asking for clothing for themselves. Some people reacted to the call by bringing something, including the shirt Hector is wearing in this photo.
The blouse gained a personal value for Kira because it reminds her of the kindness of people and they preserve it with care since then.
Olha is from Kherson and she lived under the occupation for one month and a half. At some point, she decided she needed to leave and, together with her colleagues, she went to Odessa and then to the Netherlands. She arrived in April 2022 and she lives here with her brother. At first, she was uncomfortable because everything is different, the language and she needed to adapt but now it’s getting better. She is grateful to the dutch people for their support.
Olha found the organization and in May 2022 she joined it as a volunteer because she was glad to do something useful. Her parents are still in Ukraine, and they are safe for the moment. She lives in the Netherlands with her uncle, aunt and grandmother.
The postacard says: Thank you very much! For your support and help! Thanks for being here!

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