Just last week I had a meeting in Amsterdam, to discuss another assignment in Jordan. The last two years I have been documenting the lives of Syrian refugees there, together with reporter Rinke Verkerk. And we might go back.
I am not really sure what happened during that meeting, but something big ignited there, something almost out of control. We are now exactly one week further and here's where we are now. This Friday we are flying to Amman, for a 2 week trip to both Jordan and Lebanon. We'll be shooting for a book that will be launched in December. Just last friday - that's two days after that meeting - we sold 400 copies of that book-to-be to a company that likes our positive approach. Now it's wednesday and we're at 800+! In December there will be an exhibition in Amsterdam, focusing on the strength and resilience of the refugees, not on their dependency and misery.
Only 24 hours ago we launched www.facebook.com/wegaangeendekensbrengen (which translates as 'We are not bringing any blankets') and within a day we scored 250 likes. The phone is constantly ringing by now; tomorrow we'll have a first interview on national radio about the project and national daily De Volkskrant will publish a feature on their opinion pages, tomorrow as well.
There's hardly any time now to explain all this, but what I can say is that both Rinke and me feel it is time for a different approach to the refugee crisis, and especially to the way the public is being informed about this. We feel it's time to look beyond all the numbers and figures that people are arguing about every single day. And to focus instead on the human beings behind these numbers. To document their lives and their stories. Their fears and their hopes. Their very existence.
We notice an incredible load of energy ever since we decided to start up this project, and we see the same happening to the other people that are getting involved. I'm sure that's a good sign!
You can follow us at the facebook page; I'll be back with more information here as soon as we return from the Middle-East.
Oh, and if you have a great title for the book, please don't hesitate to suggest it!
edit April 2016: the book was published in December: www.anythingoutofnothing.com