An estimated 3 million Syrians have fled that country’s civil war. A small portion of them—perhaps 150,000—have found their way to Europe. In a series of reports for NPR, Pulitzer Center grantees Joanna Kakissis and Holly Pickett have been documenting the struggle of these refugees to carve out a safe haven in an environment that is not always welcoming.
In her most recent feature for NPR’s Weekend Edition, Joanna tells the story of three middle-aged siblings who, with the help of smugglers and fake papers, have managed to reunite in Germany.
“When we left after our home was first bombed, we thought maybe we can travel for a couple of years and then return when things calm down. We really thought we could build our home again in Syria,” one of the brothers tells Joanna. But those hopes have been dashed. The man’s daughter, aged 4, shows off to Joanna how she can count in German. She’s fast forgetting how to do the same in Arabic and her only memory of Damascus is the sound of gunfire.