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#WorldRefugeeDay: Student. Brother. Poet.

“I left my home because of the war.”

Hany, 21 years old: “Two years ago, I arrived with my family in Lebanon because of the war in my country. All I brought with me from Syria was my high school diploma and memories of happiness, friends, fun times, our warm house, my childhood and school.

I miss trips with friends, my mother smiling at me in the morning, my friend who used to wait for me for 15 minutes so we can go to school together in Syria, writing a new poem or even saving up to buy a new book! I brought with me memories of myself as Hany, the boy who is full of dreams and ambitions which he came so close to realizing before they were abruptly shattered by war.

If only you could see what’s inside my head. You will find a writer, writing the fifth draft of his past in a book entitled ‘Hope’. You might find a version of me dancing to the sound of a clock ticking, a torture if you are used to the sound of Fayrouz or Frank Sinatra. You will find a chessboard whose stones died from boredom. There you will find me.”

Hany holds his most precious possession – his high school diploma certificates. "These are my life, they are my future. I left everything behind in Syria, but not these," says the young man, seen her at the entrance to his current home in Lebanon. © UNHCR / A. McConnell / 2014

Hany’s brother Ashraf loves to run around the settlement. But his family says he is also scared by loud noises and still seems traumatized by the memories of Syria. © UNHCR / A. McConnell / 2014

Hany takes a “selfie” photo on a mobile phone of himself and Ashraf in the family shelter in the Bekaa Valley. “The mobile has become my best friend. I spend hours and hours with it. I use it for writing and reading and communication,” says Hany. He says it links him to people around the world and helps occupy his time. © UNHCR / A. McConnell / 2014

Hany is a refugee in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Before the war, Hany lived in the moment. He was a rapper, performed in a band at school, and dreamed of university. In a quiet district of Homs, in the house his dad built, he would stare at the tree outside his bedroom and write poems.

His brother Ashraf was born on the day Syria’s conflict began—March 15, 2011. Just 20 days later, the violence reached their neighbourhood. The bombs fell, and their windows shook. “For a year and a half we locked ourselves in,” Hany’s mother remembers. “We would squeeze into one room and sleep there, eat there.” They stayed until the horror came to their family: An aunt, uncle and cousin were murdered in their homes, their throats slit. It was the final straw.

After the family fled, their house was looted and burned. Hany brought only one thing with him: his high school diploma and transcripts. “These are my life, my future. I left everything behind in Syria, but not these.” Hany has returned to poetry to beat off the monotony. “I do it to complete my emotions,” he says.

Refugees. Ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Share their stories.

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