The Collector


Lia Darjes (Syrian refugees at the Turkish Border)

*the photographer invited each person she photographed to write their story in their own words, in notebooks she provided. 

Thousands of refugees have crossed the borders since the fighting in Syria started. In Turkey, they live in large refugee camps close to the border. During a journey to the Turkish-Syrian border, Darjes visited several of the refugee camps to find out about the personal stories of the people. 

notebook 1:”I am the free Abou Issam..They invaded Halfaya on 8 August 2011. I got arrested by Assad’s gangsters for one month. They tortured me in a way that no human being can imagine. After releasing me from jail, I went back to my city, they bombed it and bombed the houses with heavy artillery and they invaded it once again. Assad’s gangsters chased me again. So I took refuge in Turkey for my own safety and the safety of my relatives. And now I have been living here for one and a half months. They chased me because I asked for freedom, a new president other than Assad and to bring down the regime.”

notebook 2I am a defected soldier from the squad 17..I decided to defect with my friends at my section because army commanders were ordering us to shoot on the protesters. We refused the orders because we couldn’t kill people who are our nationals and Arabs like us. So they wrote a report accusing us that we incited army defection. After that they took us to “Rakka“‘s prison and they transferred us to the military security in “Deir el zor”. In Deir el zor we experienced and saw all kind of torture. We experience electric, people tortured and starved to death, sleep deprivation and many horrible styles. We saw how they chopped people in pieces and threw them away..Afterward they took us to the court in Aleppo and I got released after I managed to corrupt the judge with some money. I could go back to my section after 3 months. I managed a leave from the colonel and I went back home and I never came back.”

notebook 3"My name is Khaled am a defected soldier. I defected from the regime because of its brutal acts. I lived in Iraq for 15 years and I went back to Syria after the war in 2003. I lived in Syria for nine years. I was a student in a secondary school. My friends advised me to end my studies because I would in any case not get a job in education. That would apply to me and my brothers because my father escaped from Syria in 1982 and never came back. I haven’t seen my father for nine years and my mother for 14 months and ten days. This is difficult. My father left us after the holidays without saying anything. This is a long story and I will not write it. It is a very painful story."

notebook 4: ”I am Issa and I come from a village called Missiaf in Hama. I am a fugitive in Turkey- I escaped miserable Syria. I left for two reasons..The first one is because I graduated and that means that I would have to do my military service. I was always against the military service in Syria even before the events.The second one, especially now, is a different story. I would have perished in the army for two facts. First of all, because I am Alawit and the Salafis would have killed me. Otherwise, because I would be with the regime and the free Syrian army would have killed me even though they are less religiously radical. In both ways I would have perished in the wrong way… Because I am an Atheist, I am not religious, and I am not with the system. And the second reason for leaving Syria is to search for a better life with some calm.” 


Frédéric de Woelmont : The Afar - Ethiopia (previously posted here)

The Afar, nomads and pastoralists, live in the “Afar triangle” (or Danakil) in the Horn of Africa, now straddling the territories of three countries: Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Breeders of goats, sheep, camels and cattle, the Afar also ensured once the caravan transportation on behalf of Yemeni merchants between the Ethiopian highlands and the Red Sea. Long Islamized (Sunni), they remain imbued with traditional animist beliefs and reminiscences of ancient Egypt.

[…] Initiated in November 2010, the Afar project is now coming close to its end. It has been a slow motion project made up of patience and impregnation. The photographer made four journeys, spending several months in immersion in the Afar community, sharing their life in the settlements. 

[…] According to the photographer, it is “an attempt at portraying the beauty and majesty, as well as preserving the memory of the Afar people and of this region of the world where human communities continue to live according to their ancient cultures and traditions in a pristine natural environment”. Bearing witness, helping understand and inspire action, if possible, but also presenting Africa through lenses radically different than the ‘evils’ (wars, epidemics, famines, poverty…) or some exotic and simplistic clichés through which she tends to be caricatured.


200-year-old stacked stone home in Linescio, Switzerland

Renovated by Buchner Bründler Architekten in 2011, the exterior was left untouched while the interior was reconstructed layer by layer with poured concrete.

Photographs by Ruedi Walti.