What does a Syrian refugee take in his perilous journey?



Fri, 18 Aug 2017 - 08:06 GMT


Fri, 18 Aug 2017 - 08:06 GMT

Audience around exhibition objects

Audience around exhibition objects

CAIRO - 18 August 2017: Personal belongings carry precious stories and memories. In the exhibition 'Stories from Syria' at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, they show a selection of objects belonging to people born in Syria, who contributed their objects and stories, either Syrians who have lived in Sweden since a long time, or who came as refugees during the current war.

The exhibition contains 38 objects, each with its own story, and is running, since last May and into the spring of 2018. The exhibition is also a place showing Syrian history and heritage.

“Usually, when I work with exhibitions, I go through ancient objects and inscriptions in our storeroom. With Stories from Syria my role as curator was quite different: I travelled around Sweden, meeting Syrians and listening to their stories and memories from home.

It was at the same time, a wonderful and deeply moving experience,” Sofia Haggman, Egyptologist and curator at the museum told Egypt Today

Opening 20th of May at Medelhavsmuseet by Sofia Haggman

‘Medelhavsmuseet’ is a museum in Stockholm focused around collections of mainly ancient objects from the Mediterranean area and the Near East. Its English name is The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities. It contains collections from ancient Egypt, Cyprus and other regions around the Mediterranean and we generally focus on the ancient cultures in the region.

This fall of 2017, the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities is having concerts with Syrian musicians and choirs, poetry recitals, handicraft evenings and cooking classes – all with a Syrian theme.

“Syria has always been a thriving crossroads where people from Asia, Africa and Europe meet. In this exhibition, archaeological objects tell this story, which is one of war and conflict, but also one about everyday joy and sorrow; stories illustrate a longing for a missing place and a lost way of life, as well as the safety of old habits. They describe in detail the rich flavours, smells and language,” Haggman added.

The objects on display are quite simple; a set of keys, a toy, a letter, an empty jar of hand cream and a broken bow of a cello. But they carry stories and memories. No matter how small or ordinary the objects are, to their owners they are extremely precious. They are important mementos of a lost homeland. In many cases they are the only links to a different, happier life, a lost self. As such they are irreplaceable.

One of the exhibition stories by Sofia Haggman

The story of the sacred letter

“My wife wrote this letter to me when I was working in Lebanon. She was living at home in Idlib, expecting our first child. This was before there were cheap mobiles, and there was no telephone or Internet in my lodgings in Lebanon. I used to borrow a phone to call her about once every three weeks. When our son was about to be born, she started getting worried, so she sent me a letter, which was unusual. It’s the most beautiful thing I ever read.

But I still have the letter. I’ve read it countless times. My wife hasn’t come to Sweden yet, but this letter is my link to her. She and the kids are worth more than anything to me.

The letter takes me back to a time when we were all together. I carry it with me everywhere, folded and safely tucked away in my wallet. It’s my ticket to the past, to happier times,” Omar, 32 years Syrian refugee, originally from Idlib stated.

My wife wrote this letter to me, Omar from Idlib by Sofia Haggman

When a jar of cream means everything

“When you arrive in a new country, objects that used to be insignificant suddenly represent your entire previous existence, and you grow afraid of losing them. This jar of hand cream is one of those things. When I look at it, I recall my everyday life in Syria, and how I felt at the end of the day, when I’d finished my housework and was moisturizing my hands. Today, when I open my toiletry bag, I’m afraid I will lose that jar of cream.

This jar of hand cream - Khouzamafrom Damascus by Sofia Haggman

How could anyone be so fond of an empty jar? Just by looking at it, I relive the sorrow and pain of losing my Damascus, and my identity. Now I have to start over from nothing, like a new-born baby in a new world, with a new identity, new worries, and new hand cream,” Khouzama, 45 years Syrian refugee originally from Damascus, stated.

Syrian Arada outside the museum playing Syrian music by Sofia Haggman



Leave a Comment

Be Social