The 1000 Dreams Storytellers

Forty refugee storytellers, from diverse backgrounds and living all over Europe, photographed and interviewed the people featured on this website.

Each storyteller completed an intensive storytelling training program with Witness Change. They received mentorship from Robin Hammond and the Witness Change team as they interviewed and made portraits of other refugees. As part of the project all storytellers received photography equipment. The storytellers are the primary beneficiaries of sales to publications, print sales and exhibition fees. This process ensures the storytellers are supported through their participation in the campaign and have the ability to author the stories of their communities – stories about refugees, by refugees.

  • Nour MF Jarrouj

    Nationality:

    Syrian

    Country of Residence:

    United Kingdom

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    I am a human rights activist, abolitionist, conflict and development researcher, who wanted to highlight refugees who are forgotten like women and LGBTQI folks to break the stereotype about refugees - what people see in the media, that they are different and detached of what we know and who we are. We are all the same as humans. We don't need saving and we are not weak refugee victimized women. We have probably faced stuff that you can never imagine. We don't want you to feel pity for us or to do stuff for us and save us. We are capable and strong. We just need a chance and policy changes. If you truly want to stand in solidarity with refugees, don't speak for us or do stuff for us, give us access, mentor us, push for policy change to give us our rights and we will shine.
  • Esra Gültekin

    Nationality:

    Kurdish

    Country of Residence:

    Germany

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    I am a a photojournalist from Turkey. I focus on social issues such as women, identity and human rights. I worked as a reporter previously based in Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish city in eastern Turkey, for JINHA in 2013, before the all-women news agency was shut down by the Turkish authorities. Currently, I am an active member of Native Agency and Women Photograph and work based in Berlin. I graduated with a Master's degree in Cultural Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University, having written my thesis on the sexual harassment of women in digital media. My work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and has been published in international media outlets including Euronews, Welt, Taz and various other publications. In 2017 I was targeted by the pro-government media and I had to move from Turkey to Germany. Currently I live in Germany, where I continue to build my new life while actively pursuing my photography projects and writing short stories.
  • Nina Sedaghati

    Nationality:

    Iranian

    Country of Residence:

    United Kingdom

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    I am Nina Sedaghati, 40 years old. I have A Masters’ degree in Historical Monuments Restoration. I have been involved with photography for over twenty years. I started with wedding photography and changed direction to advertisement and documentary and finally street photography. I have found my interest in storytelling over the past few years. I have been living in the UK for almost three years now. Before I left my country, it was my dream to live in a world without borders. I still have the same dream, although it is looking more unreachable than ever. However, I am trying to live with my surroundings in a border-less manner. It is a bit hard to explain and might escape your patience, but basically, I am trying to leave a positive and lasting effect in the world. A warm smile, or a delightful companionship and hearing the life story of someone gets me very close to my dream, in the moment. I feel we are all the same and there is no difference between us. My dream now is that I can express these words in image and would all be able to realize them.
  • Shanthuru Premkumar

    Nationality:

    Tamil (Sri Lanka)

    Country of Residence:

    Belgium

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    I was born in Germany to political refugees from Sri Lanka. I identify myself as non-binary/queer. My parents were both activists. After the death of my mother in 1996 and the imprisonment of my father in Sri Lanka, I lived in India as a refugee for about ten years. I helped organize the first rainbow march in South India. Since 2013, I have lived in Belgium and I’m an activist for both social and climate justice. I am a facilitator and trainer on the topic of social inclusion, Anti-racism, etc. Currently, I am a parent of a seven-year-old kid and I’m pursuing philosophy at the Katholieke University Leuven while looking for work in government or non-government sector.
  • Amer Raawan

    Nationality:

    Syrian

    Country of Residence:

    United Kingdom

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    I am a Syrian refugee in London, UK. Growing up by the Mediterranean, my perception of life revolves around collectivity, sharing and helping others. I am currently working with a charity that helps refugees and asylum seekers in England. I have always been an advocate for women and minorities rights and that was my main focus in my studies. I hold a BA in English studies from Syria, and an MA in Gender and Media from the University of Sussex, UK. I am an activist who believes that positive change can happen if we all do our part and fight for it.
  • Mohamed Keita

    Nationality:

    Ivorian

    Country of Residence:

    Italy

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    Born in Ivory Coast in 1993, I left my country at the age of 14 due to the civil war, and undertook a very long journey through Guinea, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Malta to arrive in Italy in the 2010, at 17 years old. I was received at the day center for children Civico Zero in Rome. I studied Italian while working as a porter in a hotel. Thanks to my attendance at the center I discovered an innate vocation as a photographer and thus began my artistic career. Today I live and work in Rome, where I follow the boys of the Civic Zero center, and in 2017 I collaborated in the opening of two schools of photography for children in the suburbs of Bamako, Mali, and of Nairobi in Kenya. Thanks to the activity of these workshops it was possible to realize the exhibition "Free shots - Africa in the eyes of children” in Rome. Furthermore, in 2015, I won the prize for young / old photographer PhC, presented by Czech photographer Josef Koudelka and Marco Delogu.
  • Abdul Saboor

    Nationality:

    Afghan

    Country of Residence:

    France

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    My name is Abdul Saboor. I’m from Afghanistan. I don’t know how old I am- maybe 29 years. Born in exile it was war my mother, she go from Afghanistan to Pakistan she gave birth to me in mountains during the war. She moved to Pakistan to refugees camp. I grow up in Pakistan in AFG refugees camp, I was young when we came back to Afghanistan after members of my family killed by Taliban. I had to go to the us army, I got shots from Taliban 3 times and also in trouble with the family of the girl I like, it my family denied I have to leave Afghanistan. I come to Iran, I was in prison in Iran then deport me to Afghanistan. I try to come again to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgarian, Serbia, Sylvania, Italy, France, Spain, again I come to France, Belgium then I come to France final to ask asylum. In Bulgaria I was in prison too and broke my arm. My journey to get to Europe from Afghanistan took 2 years, now I’m in France since 3 years, I have a refugees status. Most of the time people asked me why that’s happened, I don’t know how to answer, the answer is I don’t know when I was in Pakistan refugee camp other kids will told me ‘refugee, when you will go back to your country?’ I will ask my mom ‘when we will go back to Afghanistan?’ She will say ‘inshallah we will go one day, when there is no more war, now it’s not many times but sometimes some people will see if you not happy go back home’.
  • Ali Jehad

    Nationality:

    Iraqi-Swedish

    Country of Residence:

    Sweden

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    Born in 1986, I spent the first five years of my childhood living in a small village in southern Iraq. As the country suffered heavily during the years surrounding The Gulf War, my family and I ended up in Rafha Refugee Camp in northern Saudi Arabia in 1991. I stayed there until 1993 before my whole family were sent to Sweden as part of the UN refugee program. Growing up as a political refugee in Sweden, I would soon realize that no matter what I did, or how well I did it, for a lot of people, I would just remain a refugee. During the refugee migration events of 2015, I decided to help out a local organization as a translator which led me to become a coordinator alongside hundreds of other volunteers. There I found my love for activism and humanitarian work. Six years later, I am using the tools and experiences my life as a refugee have provided me. I am currently aiming for a career as a documentary photographer and photo-journalist.
  • Mouhamed Yaye Traore

    Nationality:

    Beninese

    Country of Residence:

    Italy

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    My name is Mouhamed Yaye Traore. I was born in 1995 in Djougou, Benin and now live in Florence where I work. I became passionate about art thanks to the artist residencies and meetings with students at Arezzo's high schools organized by the Stand Up For Africa project at the Hymmo Art Lab in Pratovecchio (AR) which combines research into contemporary arts with human rights discussions. In developing my passion, I turned to photography in order to express my feelings and desires. As a young artist I completed beginners and photography courses in Prato at the museum of Pecci. I’m currently participating as a photographer in the fourth edition of Stand Up For Africa. I exhibited a selection of photographs dedicated to the elements that characterize the Prato sky, an overhead point of view that testifies to my enthusiastic, positive and ambitious visions.
  • Sinawi Medine

    Nationality:

    Eritrea

    Country of Residence:

    France

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    I grew up in Eritrea. I began photography as a self-taught artist while working in Africa and soon moved towards photo reportage with a focus on social photography. Leaving Eritrea for political reasons, I live in France since 2009. Through a photographic narrative, I try to highlight under-documented situations and work for social justice advocacy. My work focuses on migration and exile topics, but also more generally on social, environmental, and geopolitical issues. I was nominated for Joop Swart Masterclass (2017), received an award of excellence from the Society for News Design (publication with The Washington Post 2018) and I am a National Geographic Society Explorer (grantee in 2019 and 2021).
  • Mirza Durakovic

    Nationality:

    French & Bosniak

    Country of Residence:

    France

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    I’m a Parisian photographer, filmmaker and writer, born in former Yugoslavia within the Bosniak minority of the Sandžak region in southwestern Serbia, as the son of political refugees who came to Paris during the Yugoslav wars. I was raised in the banlieue of the French capital since the age of four. After five years of work experience in the international development sector in Paris, Brussels and London as a Grants Manager, I decided to focus on artistic projects that I had been developing in parallel to my professional career. Since then, I have been working on photography projects, directing and writing short films, learning through workshops, practice and various assignments, including a project on which I am currently working for the international NGO Witness Change. I’m fluent in English, French, Serbo-Croatian and Italian.
  • Belal Darder Mohamed

    Nationality:

    Egyptian

    Country of Residence:

    Spain

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    My name is Belal Darder. I’m an Egyptian refugee in Spain. I was sentenced to 15 years in prison for my photos and articles documenting the political turmoil I witnessed in Egypt following the coup of July 2013. My photos were published by various news agencies such as The Associated Press and The Anadolu Agency. Following the sentence, I fled Egypt and arrived in Spain where I applied for political asylum. As a refugee, photography helped me adapt to my new situation and reality and cope with the difficulties of starting a new life in a new country.