Refugee stories are human stories

Humans of New York is a bright spot on my Facebook and Instagram news feeds, but never more so than this week.

I don’t mean bright in the sense that the site always brings good news. Quite the contrary, many of the individuals who are featured share struggles and heartbreak. I mean bright in the way the site’s founder, photographer Brandon Stanton, shines a unique yet familiar light on the human experience, on the stories of real people.

Always, in every post, there is some ray of hope, even if it’s the comment section. HONY readers are overwhelmingly positive from what I’ve seen, and that is so refreshing.

What’s so great about this week?

Usually Stanton features people in New York City, that teeming mass of more than 8 million souls. But he’s left the city this month and turned his attention to the people of Syria, specifically those who have fled the war-torn country. Stanton is in Turkey and Jordan interviewing 12 refugee families who have been approved to resettle in the U.S. after a long screening process.

HONY introduces us to them, in their own words. And their words are powerful.

I’ve shared two of Stanton’s installments on my Facebook page. I had hard time choosing which ones  (it’s worth the time to read them all, with a box of tissue), but I finally chose the one below because of the father’s last line, “When I hugged them it felt like the whole world was in my hands.”

Yes! The whole world in a hug. That is what parenthood feels like. It’s universal.

Here’s the father with his boys and wife. Read their whole story at HONY.


Here’s another family I shared. They’re resettling in Detroit where the father’s (pictured here) brother-in-law lives. He told him “there is heating in the houses and the water is warm when you shower.”

I warned you about keeping the tissues close by.


And finally, the man in this last picture is a scientist with a PH.D. He’s currently testing an invention that captures power from the movement of trains. He wants to invent a device that predicts earthquakes — we could really use him in the Pacific Northwest, but he’s been cleared to resettle in Troy, Michigan. He will be coming soon, with the family he has left, one son and one daughter, who still has shrapnel in her neck from when a bomb hit their home. His wife and another daughter died in the blast.

President Obama welcomed him on the HONY website. How cool is that?

I welcome them, too.

scientist Obama HONY.png

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