The Big Sea

It was night when Hanan boarded a small rubber boat in Turkey.

"I was scared," the 15-year-old recalls. "All I saw was water."

It was Hanan's first time seeing the ocean. And now she was amongst a group of 50 other refugees, with one goal in mind: to escape.

The family had been traveling for a month already, fleeing war in their homeland of Iraq, to a refugee camp in Turkey and now on a boat to Europe.

The boat, as was often the case, was too small for the number of people it carried. Everyone was crammed together, shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet. There was a hole in the rubber that caused water to come in.

"I didn't know how to swim,"" Hanan remembers. "I thought we would drown."

At daybreak, the boat reached a tiny island in Greece, where the family stayed, before journeying onwards.

A year later, now in Germany, Hanan stands at the edge of a pool, getting ready to jump in the water for the first time. She is amongst a handful of other refugees learning to swim as a way of overcoming their fear of water and the journey they made.

"When I am in the water, I still think about the boat" she says. "I want to swim in the big sea. That's when I'll be free."

2018

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