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Robert X. Fogarty describes Dear World as “part business/art project/social experiment.” By capturing people with their message written on their body, Dear World connects people in “stories of hope. Stories of struggle. Stories of a brighter day.” Born in New Orleans, Dear World has recently traveled to Syria, giving a handful of the over two million Syrian refugees to date a chance to share their story.

See Robert’s reflection – In a Refugee Camp, I met Huda – on the trip below and visit Dear World for photos from the trip.

The refugees seemed so different from me—their dress, their language and their customs.

But I felt like I knew them. Especially when they laughed and cried. And how they described their homes, even down to how the water tasted or how the sands of Syria felt beneath their feet.

I felt like I knew them because I’ve heard stories like these before.

Longing—that pit of your stomach feeling—is the same in any language.

I live in New Orleans and my work is about empowering people and giving them a platform for their voice. New Orleanians described how they missed their city so badly it hurt. Syrians said nearly the same things.

We are truly living in the age of the refugee. Over two million Syrians have left the country to date, thousands fleeing every day. In July, the UN’s refugee agency said that 45.2 million people remain displaced from their homes due to worldwide conflicts – a 19-year high. What does it mean to be a refugee?

You dream about home, your life is on hold and there are clear limits to how you can shape your future for you and the ones you love.

Huda, who now lives in the Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, is 11. She was with her family outside their house in Syria when it was hit by a bomb. She was the only one who was hurt. The family had to hide for hours and could not get to a hospital for nearly two days. Bureaucracy and fighting has made humanitarian access for UN agencies and INGOs like CARE—who we partnered with on these portraits—incredibly limited.

Huda’s message to the world?

“I want the life I had to come back.”

To view a beautiful video from my friend Ben and the rest of the refugees portraits please visit: syria.dearworld.me