These are our children, Part 3

Photo by Deryal Yulsel, 2017

By Deryal Yuksel

Note from Kathie MM: This is the final installment of Deryal’s photo essay, which introduced us to Hasan, Hatun, Hanna, and  Ali, Syrian refugees who currently live in Istanbul, Turkey. Please look at their faces, hear their words. feel their goodness, and think of their rights as children to a safe and decent life.

“I can write in Arabic.”


“We all live in the same house.”

Hasan, Hatun, Hanna, and Ali, with photo essayist Deryal

Note from Kathie MM:  It is true.  We all live in the same house: Mother Earth. If Earth is to survive, we must do all we can to protect it and all the living thing who inhabit it.

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These are our children, Part 2

“And then we ran away. Then we went in our home with our mothers. Everyone got in (the car). We carried some of our clothes. Then we came here (Istanbul).”

By Deryal Yuksel

In last Wednesday’s post , we introduced you to Hasan, Hatun, Hanna, and Ali, child refugees from Aleppo, Syria, who currently live in Istanbul, Turkey. Their story continues in this photo essay.

Unfortunately, most refugees experience indifference and neglect. We must recognize that change is never easy, especially if you are missing your homeland that no longer exists. It will make a big difference if we sharpen our senses and expand our outlook on humanity.  Take a moment to hear the stories of these four children.

*The quotes in the photo captions  come directly from the children and are translated into English.

“Then we carried our grandfather to the room. Then he died too.”


*Hasan taught me to sing one of his favorite songs in Arabic, Safer Ya Habibi. The translation of the song is “Travel my beloved, and return.”

“I am this many years old.”


“People take our photographs on the streets and then offer us money.”

“We moved to Istanbul four years ago.”

“We are bringing some clothes home.”

“The people here do not let us pose for their photographs the way that we would like to. They tell us to lift our arm, and do what they tell us to do and this bothers us a lot. They do not treat us right.”

“My father’s brother died. A bomb hit him and killed him.”

“My sister was born in our house in Turkey.”

“We are going to hang the photographs in our home.”

*On the streets, the children were offering small antique keys to promote peace.

Note from Kathie MM: I hope we will all do what these Syrian refugee children are requesting: Promote peace for all.  If we do not promote peace for everyone, there will be peace for no one.

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These are our children, Part 1

“We came from Syria! We came from Aleppo!”

By Deryal Yuksel

Meet Hasan, Hatun, Hanna and Ali. They are refugees from Aleppo, Syria. They are lost between two lands, feeling accepted by none. Istanbul’s historic Balat district, is their new playground.

Sometimes words in newspaper articles are just not enough for us to understand the Syrian refugee crisis.  This series of shots depicts an individual perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis in Istanbul, Turkey.

I am so lucky that I can call these children my friends. We began taking photographs of each other on the street. All the photographs were taken for fun, and that is what makes them very real. I taught them how to use my camera. They taught me games and songs, but most importantly, they taught me to understand their hardships.

Unfortunately, most of the refugees experience indifference and neglect in societies. We all must recognize that change is never easy, especially if you are missing your homeland that no longer exists. It will make a big difference if we sharpen our senses and expand our horizons on humanity. So, please take a moment to learn about the stories of these four children.

*The quotes in the photographs (below) directly come from the children and are translated into English.

“My name is Hasan. I am seven years old.”

“My name is Hatun. I am nine years old.”


“My name is Ali. I am five years old.”

My name is Hanna. I am ten years old.”

“People always call us beggars. They say, look, look at the beggars begging on the street.”

“Our grandfather died while traveling to Turkey with us. We are very upset. God rest his soul.”

Deryal Yuksel graduated as a Psychology major from Boston University.  She is interested in street photography and the lives of the people she shoots, particularly Syrian refugees. There is a stigma in the country that needs to be broken, and she hopes to raise awareness with photography.

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By Doe West

[Note from Kathie: this is post 4 in a four part series  by Dr. Doe West award-winning psychologist and pastor.

In response to the October 2006 mass shooting at the West Nickel Mines School in the Old Order Amish community in Pennsylvania, some commentators criticized the quick and complete forgiveness with which the Amish responded. These critics argued that forgiveness is inappropriate when no remorse has been expressed, and that such an attitude runs the risk of denying the existence of evil.

Others were supportive. Donald Kraybill and two other scholars of Amish life noted that “letting go of grudges” is a deeply rooted value in Amish culture, which remembers forgiving by others done grievous wrong such as Jesus himself. They explained that the Amish willingness to forgo vengeance does not undo the tragedy or pardon the wrong, but rather constitutes a first step toward a future that is more hopeful.

I know the members of the Amish community were as much in the dark about the reasons for the killer’s behavior as I was then and still am today. But they went way beyond prayers for forgiveness. They undertook the behavior of forgiveness.

So, I am speaking to you about how we can change our behavior long before our emotions lead us astray; they will catch up if we push forward with new, better behavior.
Even as they dealt with all human emotions, the Amish community stepped forward in the behavior of forgiveness for all those impacted by the violence. Yes, they still had to bury the dead, live with the injuries, destroy the old school building, and build a new one  — and send their children to it.

This I know. Our behavior shows our true colors. Our feelings arise from our humanity. There are no moral obligations to our feelings but there are to our behavior.

I know also that I want a life that not only allows a future that is more hopeful but also one that my behavior helps create.

By my behavior,                                                                                                                            Toward others                                                                                                                                      and myself.                                                                                                                                                I will show my true colors in ALL seasons of this complex life.                                                    I will forgive and I will not fear.                                                                                                           I will go forward living my red-letter life                                                                                      with fearlessness of compassion                                                                                                      and fearlessness of forgiveness.                                                                                                          In a life left open to hope.


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