Salam (Hello) Neighbor Film
Salam (Hello) Neighbor is a film and campaign to connect the world to refugees. In an effort to better understand the complex realities of refugee life, we recently spent one month living alongside displaced families in the Za’atari refugee camp.
Feb. 6, 2014 – Everything around us in Jordan’s Za’atari camp is white– the stones on the ground, the tents, the caravans, the cement. The only thing that breaks up the visual monotony is 10 kids weaving in and out of us, periodically saying “hello” and gesturing for us to take photos. Three of them, all red-heads, persistently pull on our shirts to show us something nearby. We round the corner to see what they’re pointing at and discover a gorgeous stone fountain.
The artist behind it, an unimposing man and the father of the three red-heads, walks out from his caravan grinning. Just like the vast majority of refugees here, Ziyad is excessively friendly and eager to show us around. As it turns out, the fountain is just one of his many works of art. He built a bedroom for his kids, fashioned a bread oven, planted a garden, pieced together a storefront and is in the process of adding a private bathroom and cement patio to his caravan. Most impressively, he’s built most of it by repurposing aid items.
We sit for a few hours together and listen to his story. Most of all, he wants his family to feel at home again. With a heavy heart, he explains the difficulty of his decision to accept that his family’s return to Syria may not come quickly. In the meantime, he has chosen to start investing in this temporary home in Za’atari. Ziyad is an example of how many refugees here in the camp are beginning to shift their mindset from temporary to longer-term. His passion, ingenuity and resilience, has brightened our day.
More stories from Za’atari can be found at www.SalamNeighbor.org