Altair Guimarães

Starting Over: A Syrian's New Life in the Netherlands

March 15, 2016 marked five years since the start of the Syrian conflict. It has killed 250,000 people and triggered the world’s largest displacement crisis. Half of all Syrians have fled their homes, around 4.8 million of them becoming refugees outside the country, mostly in neighbouring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Around 450,000 Syrians have been granted asylum in Europe. Hanadi is one of them. Hanadi and her family had a middle-class life in Damascus, until the fighting closed in around them. They sold all they had and fled to Turkey. Using the proceeds from the family house and car, Hanadi made her way to the Netherlands, which is known for its generous family reunification policy. We first filmed Hanadi and her family in 2014, when they had been in their new home in the small Dutch village of Kessel Eik, for three months. Sixteen months later we visited them again to see how Hanadi was getting on in her new European home. Hanadi is now divorced from her husband and is becoming proficient in Dutch, with her son now attending college in Germany. Hanadi is attempting to get into the Dutch workforce, despite being offered jobs she would be over-qualified for back home in Syria. However, Hanadi and her family continue to adapt.

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The Resilience of Children

The future of our communities lies in protecting our most vulnerable yet most resilient members: our children. But often, children are the first victims of war and poverty. Many face horrifying events and live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. Despite this, some children survive these events to become leaders of their communities and voices for peace.

Storytelling Across the Globe

Virtual reality experiences, comic books, and architectural mapping are all forms of storytelling being used by artists and activists around the world to raise awareness of social problems. From calling out sexual assault in India to documenting war crimes in Gaza, these modes of communication are connecting people to issues across the world.

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Taboo Health Issues

Many communities around the world see disease and mental illness not as something to be treated, but as something to be feared. As a result, many suffering from curable conditions are stigmatized within their communities. But through education and organizing, some people are challenging these stigmas and addressing previously taboo health issues.

Green at What Price?

In the name of environmental restoration, the Ugandan government is expanding the country’s forest reserves in order to sell into the global carbon credit market. But this program comes at a high human cost as the state is displacing long established villages, forcing people to relocate, and jailing those opposing the program.

One Man, One City, Three Evictions

Rio de Janeiro has experienced several waves of development in the past century. For Altair Guimaraes the changes have affected him directly. Brought up in a favela, he has been evicted three times as a result of Rio’s developments. As Brazil tries to gain global recognition and increase tourism, locals like Altair are forced to relocate despite property titles. Now, their struggles are becoming a symbol of a global phenomenon.