Only a week ago I returned from Jordan, where I was together with reporter Rinke Verkerk to document the lives of Syrian refugees in an area close to the Jordan-Syria border. Last year we'd been to the same place, and boy, it was a sad mission then. The people were angry and the war was everywhere. Little children in Al Za'atari refugee camp were throwing stones at us. If we only mentioned the possibility that the refugees might have to stay in Jordan longer than a few weeks, people immediately got mad at us. It was almost impossible to find a trace of positive energy then.
Now, only a year later, I was taken by surprise when I returned. The war is still there, and so are all the trauma's, the pain and the tears. But amidst all that I sensed something else: hope.
It was everywhere. The kids were going to school and didn't have time to throw stones at us any more. Birds were singing in the air. People have started to grow crops in tiny little gardens just in front of their tent or caravan. Whenever I had a coffee or a shisha in one of the little cafe's in Za' atari people would refuse my payment, showing me hospitality in a way that touched me deeply.
Last year I thought Al Za'atari was a miserable place. Now I still think it is, but I've felt it is also a center of hope, and a monument to the power of love. And I have a deep respect for people that lost almost everything and still have the strength to go on.
Want to see the images? Here they are.