| Social Issues |Phileleftheros



Over the last few days two photos have been juxtaposed: One of a tourist walking on a dirt road in Rhodes with his child in his arms in an attempt to escape the fire, and one of a Syrian man walking in the rain and fog wearing a cape made of garbage bags and – also – holding his child in his arms, whom he kisses comfortingly on the cheek. An astounding photo taken by Yannis Behrakis in 2015 at the peak of the refugee crisis.

The two photos do have common elements: Man’s attempt to move away from evil and save himself, a father’s love for his child, fear but also hope combined. Both hope that they will reach a clearing. And from that point on, the similarities disappear. One will have left behind only a suitcase of clothes that he could not carry with him and the other will have left behind his home, his family, his friends, his job, the daily life that made him feel good up to that point. One will soon arrive home and continue from where he had left off before travelling to Rhodes, without any disruption to his daily life.

The other will be looking for a country to accept him, a house to settle in, a job so that his child can live and he will forever be associated with the identity of a refugee. For the tourist, what caused the photo will simply be an unpleasant adventure that cost him his dream of a carefree holiday, which he will describe from a safe distance. Some nights, he may be shaken in his sleep by some nightmare of fires edging nearer, but by next summer he will be ready for a holiday. For the refugee, the nightmares will be part of his new life. His march through the fog will continue indefinitely.

The two photos, then, are not as similar as one might think upon a first fleeting glimpse. But they do reveal something that we are unable to see at first glance. They reveal how easily our lives can be turned upside down. How our carefreeness can be lost and how we can find ourselves on the streets searching for a way out. And it is not a given that the outcome of the search will always be a positive one.


Daily columnist at Phileleftheros for 20 years and editor-in-chief of the architecture magazine Synthesis. Earlier she worked for Alitheia and Politis. She was born in Dikomo and has been living permanently in Nicosia. She is married with one son.

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