Meet Ali, an Iraqi boy who radiates kindness and intelligence, but whose life as a refugee is quickly turning from bad to worse.
When our team arrived at the Šid refugee camp in Serbia, we met Ali and quickly became friends through broken English, a few words in Serbian, and a lot of pantomiming as he explained what was happening in the camp. Here’s the cliff-notes version: two days before we arrived, hundreds of people started to fill the camp as borders to the EU (primarily in Slovenia and Croatia) began refusing entry to large numbers of refugees, including nationalities that had previously been allowed through as asylum-seekers.
Try to picture it all: an overflowing refugee camp (built with large white tents in the shadow of an old butcher/meat factory) with people who are upset and confused — and in the midst of it all, this sweet boy (probably between the age of 14 or 15) who eagerly engages us with the little English and Serbian he knows.
After talking for a few minutes and watching yet another busload of refugees enter the camp, Ali noticed the camera slung over my shoulder and so I gestured for him to come closer. I put the strap around his neck, gave him a 2-minute photography lesson, and then watched as he became my “photography assistant” for the day. The following photos are what he took while we walked around the camp.