12 Things Refugees Clutched Onto While Fleeing For Their Lives

We live in oblivion till death strikes right in front of our eyes. What if tomorrow never comes? What if all the things you have – all the people you have, your home, your bed, your life – you had to leave it all one night?  If you run for life clutching one thing, what will it be?

Here are 12 refugees who show the photographer Adi Safri what they brought from home when they came to Malaysia. Their homes are no more, but their souvenirs will live forever.

1. She brought her 9-year-old daughter’s red dress

Salimah Gafu left her daughter in Myanamar with a relative.

2. He brought a rabbit given by his Daddy.

4-year-old Khafid says this toy is the only thing he loves. His father’s whereabouts are still unknown since the day he came to Malaysia.

3. She brought a plate of traditional herb talc.

Tawhidah lost two of her sisters in the war.

4. She brought her pink school bag with her.

Laila ran away from the war with a dwindling hope of education.


5. She brought a living piece of her love within her.

Filsan Jama was pregnant when she escaped to Malaysia. Her husband was never found after that.

6. He brought his last 200 Kyat note

Hanif Hussain, a resident of Rakhine, clutched his money when fleeting.

7. He brought his Dad’s traditional cloth

Ali hails from Somalia and this shawl reminds him of his home and his dad.

8. He brought his fiance in this picture.

Osman Bilal left Myanamar during the war, where his fiance lives. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever meet her again.

9. She brought her slippers.

18-year-old, Shaban could only think of running away during the war.

10. He brought the slingshot his best friend had gifted him.

Abdul Basik left his best friend in Myanamar. But he couldn’t leave the last memory of his.

11. He brought his family picture.

Ghafar Malik could only reach out for this family picture when he fled the war scene. May be he knew he would need it. His sons live in Myanmar with relatives.

12. He brought his holy Hadith Book.

In the times of bloodshed, all that Osman knew he would need is the guidance from the universe.


“A picture speaks thousand words” 

Picture credits

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