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A deeper more intimate view of the motivations for the mass movement of people, and the intricacies involved in settling in a new land

Flight for Life is the result of a trilateral cooperation between students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, the International Media Center at HAW Hamburg, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Petersburg State University. Over a period of several weeks, 10 teams of three students from each of these universities conducted audio, video, and scripted interviews with refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ghana, Egypt and Iran.

The goal of the project was to more closely examine the hopes, fears, aspirations, tragedies, exploitations and expectations of these groups of people as they make an arduous and traumatic transition from their native lands to Europe and the USA. Through this project, the students also hoped to provide a deeper more intimate view of the motivations for the mass movement of people, and the intricacies involved in settling in a new land.

Yet, these stories do not focus solely on the refugees themselves, but aspects tangential to their experience, such as political, educational, medical, psychological and sociological influences, as they cross land and sea in a desperate flight for a better and richer life.
    • Pediatric Healthcare

      By Ryan Connelly Holmes

      As tens of thousands of Syrians flock across the southern border into Jordan, they find a healthcare system that is ill-prepared to meet their needs. For the children especially, health needs are great. Parents bring their children to understaffed camps and clinics in search of care for their kids. Ryan Connelly Holmes was in Jordan in April investigating the health needs of these children.

      Continue reading...


      By Aleksandra Elfacheva, Nikita Mandhani and Nina Halbig

      As soon as the sun sets each night, more than one million Syrian refugees in Germany drink the first few sips of water after hours of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Living closely with other practicing Muslims in tents, temporary housing, reception centers, refugee camps or rented homes, they get together sometimes for the evening meal of iftar. They smile wistfully remembering other iftars from the past, when they were part of a tightly knit family unit. Continue reading...


      By Darina Gribova, Aruna Valliappan, Thomas Vogel and Kolja Warnecke

      Sitting on a bench overlooking Outer Alster Lake in central Hamburg, Abdullah Abdalal remembers his childhood years in Damascus, Syria's capital city, playing video games, eating family dinners and walking his dog. But everything changed in 2011 when popular protests against President Bashar al-Assad turned violent as the government responded forcefully to quell the demonstrations. As the brutal conflict dragged on and the teenage Abdalal approached 18 – the age of compulsory military service – he and his family developed a plan. Continue reading...


      By Vladislav Chirin, Zineb Doubli and Patrick Martin

      More than 55,000 Afghans have applied for asylum in Germany in the last five years. Since the Syrian war refugee crisis broke out, Afghans have faced more difficulties in attaining asylum. For some of them deportation means a death sentence. Continue reading...


      By Bian Elkhatib, Luiza Vafina and Pia Lorenzen

      Thamer Imad is 22. Mohamed is 46. Both are Syrian refugees living in Hamburg. But there is a crucial difference: One speaks German, one does not. Continue reading...


      By Catherine Barney, Tanja Drozdzynski and Harry Huggins

      Nobody was planning on 500 newcomers arriving daily to Hamburg in the latter half of 2015. Hamburg has a general housing problem and finding an apartment in the city is challenging for everyone. The city now has to address the question of how to house this influx of new arrivals, mostly refugees who are escaping violence in their home countries. Continue reading...


      By Mona Klarkowska, Alina Kurpel and Enrica Nicoli Aldini

      A young Iranian woman is looking for directions in Hamburg, Germany. She asks strangers on the street for help, but to no avail. Fatemeh Abdollahzadeh has just arrived in Germany. All she can speak to make herself understood is English. But everyone responds in German, and Abdollahzadeh still does not know the language. She feels surprised that people refuse to answer her in English. Her status as a foreigner prevents communication and assistance, and adds to her feelings of isolation and discrimination. Continue reading...


      By Kat Lonsdorf, Sarah Apel, Arthur Kropanev and Philipp Meuser

      Tarek Gharib leans against the wall in the hallway of Café Refugio, a church-basement-turned-coffeehouse and meeting place for refugees in the southern Hamburg neighborhood of Harburg. Gharib, 36, has pale blue eyes, sandy blonde hair, and a fair complexion. At first glance, he looks German, or at least European. But Gharib came to Hamburg from Damascus, Syria last year--one of 62,000 refugees that arrived in the city in 2015. "There is no future for me here," he says flatly in English, shrugging his shoulders. "Nothing." Continue reading...


      By Daria Malitskaya, Stephanie Golden and Roman Azadzoy

      Hakim Chohbishat, living in Germany for the past four years, said the oppression his people face has been forgotten. However, this migrant did not flee from Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq, he left a country once known as Al-Ahwaz. "I had to leave the country because I feared for my life," said Chohbishat, 32. "They killed my uncle because he wrote a poem against the regime." Continue reading...


      By Max Greenwood, Kristina Bosslar and Viktoriia Fomenko

      Public fears that refugees could turn to criminal activity are at an all-time high. But instances of crime among migrants in Germany are no higher than they were before the refugee crisis. In Hamburg, Germans and refugees alike are working to keep it that way. Continue reading...

    • STUCK

      By Jannika Grimm, Polina Popova and Raquel Zaldivar

      On a bright, sunny day in Harburg, a southern borough of Hamburg, Germany, Farwazan Chelozai, an Afghan woman in her late twenties, is sitting with her brother in a sunny room in an Erstaufnahme fur Asylsuchende, or reception center for asylum seekers. Continue reading...

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