"God, Syria and Freedom". These words were repeated on the streets of Syria 10 years ago. Protests led to repression and this, in turn, to the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history. A civil war broke a country and shattered the hopes of millions of Syrians.
I travelled to Gaziantep to see for myself the consequences of war. To meet the people who were forced to leave their lands and adapt to another culture. To meet children who will never see their parents again and to help children who do not know their grandparents.
After a somewhat uncertain departure due to the coronavirus and some long stopovers, I landed on November 6 2020, in Gaziantep, or Antep as many people call it there. The city receives few foreign flights, so few that I could not find the luggage because I was wrong in the terminal. After getting the cameras back and missing several buses, I made it to the house where I was going to stay for the next 59 days.
The first objective was to meet a "war" photographer who lived in the city. After a few talks with people who worked there, a name was repeated: Mustafa Karali.
Who was this man? Where he lived? Could we talk?
After a couple of messages via cell phone, I got a meeting at a tea shop in the old Armenian quarter of the city. An evening with Mustafa and Valentina, a volunteer who shared a place of residence with me and who knew him. An çay and two cafes headed the main theme of my work in the city, children, and served as the first step towards our friendship.
It has been four months since then, two since I left and one day since we last spoke. We are friends, the first great photographer I know in person and it turns out that we become friends. I was looking for a teacher to teach me what war was like and we only talked about it once.
I only showed him my pictures the last day before I left. He gave me access to his from the first week and I promised to write a story about them. What story can I write about them? A good story is told with images. The series that you see below is only a sample of the photographs taken by a boy who saw his city burn. That he met great photographers and that in the end, he had to leave.
That is the story I want to tell. How the war came and took away everything a nation had.
A story of houses that burned, of buses that travelled full of families, of fields that became a refuge for and how a different life arrived. A life in which fortunately I collaborated for two months. Stories that will be told little by little. After all, I am not a writer.
A prologue to the notes I took and the moments we spent. My page and my photos are a small voice but every voice sometimes speaks.
I hope  someday Hiba will force us to eat all breakfast before we get to work again.

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