Finding Home

Their families fled Syria. They were born refugees. What will happen next?

Finding Home

Their families fled Syria. They were born refugees. What will happen next?

PHOTOGRAPHS BY
Lynsey Addario
REPORTING BY 

Aryn Baker
Francesca Trianni

THE MOTHERS AND BABIES

TAIMAA AND HELN

SUAD AND HAMIDA

NOUR AND RAHAF

ILLHAM AND FARAJ

#TIMEFINDINGHOME

Since September, TIME has been following four Syrian refugees as they prepared to give birth in a foreign land. All of the women learned of their pregnancies on the road and none expected to deliver in a refugee camp, far from the homes they fled in Syria. These women are among the more than 1,000 refugees who have given birth in Greek refugee camps in 2016 alone. As these children of no nation learn to take their first steps, they face an uncertain future, their parents still searching for a home in a world that is increasingly hostile to refugees. With “Finding Home,” TIME will follow these babies and their parents, documenting in photo and video, in print, online and on social media, the first year of this stateless generation.

This project is supported by funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY
Lynsey Addario
REPORTING BY
Aryn Baker
Francesca Trianni

THE MOTHERS AND BABIES

TAIMAA AND HELN

SUAD AND HAMIDA

ILLHAM AND FARAJ

NOUR AND RAHAF

#TIMEFINDINGHOME

Since September, TIME has been following four Syrian refugees as they prepared to give birth in a foreign land. All of the women learned of their pregnancies on the road and none expected to deliver in a refugee camp, far from the homes they fled in Syria. These women are among the more than 1,000 refugees who have given birth in Greek refugee camps in 2016 alone. As these children of no nation learn to take their first steps, they face an uncertain future, their parents still searching for a home in a world that is increasingly hostile to refugees. With “Finding Home,” TIME will follow these babies and their parents, documenting in photo and video, in print, online and on social media, the first year of this stateless generation.

This project is supported by funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

THE MOTHERS AND BABIES:

From Idlib, Syria. Heln born on Sept. 13, 2016

Taimaa
and Heln

24-year-old Taimaa Abazli has struggled with what appears to be postpartum depression, and fears for her daughter Heln’s future

From Idlib, Syria. Heln born on Sept. 13, 2016

Taimaa
and Heln

24-year-old Taimaa Abazli has struggled with what appears to be postpartum depression, and fears for her daughter Heln’s future

“I dream a lot, but I don’t know if these dreams will come true.”

Clockwise from top left: Taimaa with Heln at her family’s tent; baby Heln; Taimaa and Heln walking through Thessaloniki

A Mother’s Fear

Taimaa Abazli says she doesn’t care where she goes, as long as “it’s not here,” referring to the 100 sq. ft. tent in the Karamanlis refugee camp in Northern Greece where toilets are hard to reach and where she can smell decomposing frogs under the canvas floor. When her daughter Heln—Taimaa says she wanted a “modern” spelling of Helen—was born on Sept. 13, the U.N. refugee agency arranged for her to stay in a hotel. But the hotel was far from the camp and her husband’s job, and at the hotel she had no way to cook. Reluctantly, she had to return to the camp she hated, carrying two-week-old Heln with her.

READ THE WHOLE STORY

“I dream a lot, but I don’t know if these dreams will come true.”

GALLERY: Taimaa with Heln at her family’s tent; baby Heln; Taimaa and Heln walking through Thessaloniki

A Mother’s Fear

Taimaa Abazli says she doesn’t care where she goes, as long as “it’s not here,” referring to the 100 sq. ft. tent in the Oreokastro refugee camp in Northern Greece where toilets are hard to reach and where she can smell decomposing frogs under the canvas floor. When her daughter Heln—Taimaa says she wanted a “modern” spelling of Helen—was born on Sept. 13, the U.N. refugee agency arranged for her to stay in a hotel. But the hotel was far from the camp and her husband’s job, and at the hotel she had no way to cook. Reluctantly, she had to return to the camp she hated, carrying two-week-old Heln with her.

READ THE WHOLE STORY

“I dream a lot, but I don’t know if these dreams will come true.”

MAIN COVER PHOTO: TAIMAA ABAZLI, 24, holdsher new baby Heln in their tent in Thessaloniki, Greece, 9/26/2016

Clockwise from top left: Taimaa with Heln at her family’s tent; baby Heln sleeping; Taima and Heln walking in the town of Thessaloniki

A Mother’s Fear

Taimaa Abazli says she doesn’t care where she goes, as long as “its not here”—the 100 sq. ft. tent in the Oreokastro refugee camp, where toilets are hard to reach and where she is plagued by the smell of decomposing frogs trapped under the canvas floor. When her daughter Heln (Taimaa says she wanted a “modern” spelling) was born on Sept. 13, the U.N. refugee agency arranged for her to stay in a hotel. But the hotel was far from the camp and her husband’s job, and at the hotel she had no way to cook and couldn’t afford to eat. Reluctantly, she had to return to the camp she hated, carrying two-week-old Heln with her.

From Idlib, Syria. Hamida born Sept. 30, 2016

Suad
and Hamida

25-year-old Suad Iessa almost died giving birth to her daughter in Greece

From Idlib, Syria. Hamida born Sept. 30, 2016

Suad
and Hamida

25-year-old Suad Iessa almost died giving birth to her daughter in Greece

From left to right: SUAd is taken into surgery; SUAd’s husband Thaer Sannaa watches her wheeled away; baby Hamida, named after Thaer’s mother

The Perils of a Refugee Pregnancy

Suad Iessa had the first ultrasound of her pregnancy—most of which she spent on the run from Syria and in a refugee camp—at nine months. The nurses and doctors in the Greek hospital quickly noticed that something was very wrong. Her placenta had grown into her bladder, and she had to have an emergency cesarean section and a hysterectomy.

After they delivered Hamida, a team of Greek surgeons and nurses worked more than four hours to save Suad’s life. Suad says she will be eternally grateful for the attention and care of the Greek doctors. Had she given birth in the camp instead of the hospital, she probably would have died.

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GALLERY: SuAd is taken into surgery; SuAd’s husband Thaer Sannaa watches her wheeled away; baby Hamida, named after Thaer’s mother

The Perils of a Refugee Pregnancy

Suad Iessa had the first ultrasound of her pregnancy—most of which she spent on the run from Syria and in a refugee camp—at nine months. The nurses and doctors in the Greek hospital quickly noticed that something was very wrong. Her placenta had grown into her bladder, and she had to have an emergency cesarean section and a hysterectomy.

After they delivered Hamida, a team of Greek surgeons and nurses worked more than four hours to save Suad’s life. Suad says she will be eternally grateful for the attention and care of the Greek doctors. Had she given birth in the camp instead of the hospital, she probably would have died.

READ THE WHOLE STORY

From DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria. Rahaf born Nov. 1, 2016

Nour
and Rahaf

22-year-old Nour Altallaa had to give birth to her first child without the comfort of family

From DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria. Rahaf born Nov. 1, 2016

Nour
and Rahaf

22-year-old Nour Altallaa had to give birth to her first child without the comfort of family

A New Mother on Her Own

Nour Altallaa has dreamt of having children since she was a girl growing up in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. But she always thought her mother would be there, helping her through labor and her first years as a mother. Instead, Nour watched online videos on childbirth to prepare herself—which doesn’t mean she was prepared. “I am afraid,” Nour said when she took baby Rahaf home from the hospital. “I don’t know what is normal, but I will look on the Internet. I learned from YouTube how to crochet dresses. I learned about childbirth. And now I will look up how to take care of a new baby.”

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“When I found out I was pregnant, I was very happy at first. But I didn’t have my mom by my side, so my happiness was incomplete.”

Clockwise from top left: Baby Rahaf is bathed; Nour rests in the tent with Rahaf; Nour’s husband Yousef holds Rahaf

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was very happy at first. But I didn’t have my mom by my side, so my happiness was incomplete.”

GALLERY: Baby Rahaf is bathed; Nour rests in the tent with Rahaf; Nour’s husband Yousef holds Rahaf

A New Mother on Her Own

Nour Altallaa has dreamt of having children since she was a girl growing up in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. But she always thought her mother would be there, helping her through labor and her first years as a mother. Instead, Nour watched online videos on childbirth to prepare herself—which doesn’t mean she was prepared. “I am afraid,” Nour said when she took baby Rahaf home from the hospital. “I don’t know what is normal, but I will look on the Internet. I learned from YouTube how to crochet dresses. I learned about childbirth. And now I will look up how to take care of a new baby.”

READ THE WHOLE STORY

From Deir ez-Zor, Syria. Faraj born Oct. 2, 2016

Illham
and Faraj

The 23-year-old was already the mother of four sons when she arrived at the Greek refugee camp, pregnant once more

From Deir ez-Zor, Syria. Faraj born Oct. 2, 2016

Illham
and Faraj

The 23-year-old was already the mother of four sons when she arrived at the Greek refugee camp, pregnant once more

“I don’t care where we go, as long as we go somewhere soon.”

Left to right: Illham with her family and visitors in their tent; washing outside Oreokastro camp; Illham caring for baby Faraj

“I don’t care where we go, as long as we go somewhere soon.”

An Unstoppable Force for Her Family

Illham Alarabi knew it was time to flee Syria the day fighter jets strafed her village near Deir ez-Zor. She and her husband Minhel Alsaleh left with their children the day after she gave birth to her fourth son. In Greece, Illham was pregnant again—though unlike some of the other women in the camp, she looked forward to childbirth. “At the hospital someone else does the cleaning, you only have one kid to take care of, and there is a bathroom in your room,” she says. “It’s like a spa.”

After Illham brought baby Faraj home, she hosted friends in the family’s tent for a celebration—though the privations of refugee life dampened things somewhat. “When a baby is born in Syria, we slaughter a lamb and eat meat,” she says. “Here we will slaughter a croissant.”

READ THE WHOLE STORY

GALLERY: Illham with her family and visitors in their tent; washing outside Oreokastro camp; Illham caring for baby Faraj

An Unstoppable Force for Her Family

Illham Alarabi knew it was time to flee Syria the day fighter jets strafed her village near Deir ez-Zor. She and her husband Minhel Alsaleh left with their children the day after she gave birth to her fourth son. In Greece, Illham was pregnant again—though unlike some of the other women in the camp, she looked forward to childbirth. “At the hospital someone else does the cleaning, you only have one kid to take care of, and there is a bathroom in your room,” she says. “It’s like a spa.”

After Illham brought baby Faraj home, she hosted friends in the family’s tent for a celebration—though the privations of refugee life dampened things somewhat. “When a baby is born in Syria, we slaughter a lamb and eat meat,” she says. “Here we will slaughter a croissant.”

READ THE WHOLE STORY

Behind the Scenes

A team of reporters, videographers and photographers from TIME will spend the next year reporting on the lives of these Syrian refugee mothers and their babies.

Aryn Baker
TIME international correspondent

Francesca Trianni
TIME videographer

Lynsey Addario
photographer

READ MORE FROM THE EDITOR OF TIME

This project is supported by funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Lynsey Addario’s field work has been supported by funding from Verbatim and the UNFPA.

from LEFT: BAKER, ADDARIO and Trianni waiting for BABY faraj to be born at papageorgiou general hospital in Thessaloniki on Oct. 2

Behind the Scenes

A team of reporters, videographers and photographers from TIME will spend the next year reporting on the lives of these Syrian refugee mothers and their babies.

from LEFT: BAKER, ADDARIO and Trianni waiting for BABY faraj to be born at papageorgiou general hospital in Thessaloniki on Oct. 2

READ MORE FROM THE EDITOR OF TIME

This project is supported by funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Lynsey Addario’s field work has been supported by funding from Verbatim and the UNFPA.

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