Hi we're Chris and Zach. We traveled to the Syrian border, to live with 85,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan's Za’atari camp. Ask us anything or watch our film SALAM NEIGHBOR for an intimate look at the heartbreak and hope on the frontlines of the world’s most dire refugee crisis.

SALAM NEIGHBOR has been called "Important" by U.S Ambassador Samantha Power and "Heart-wrenching" by Indiewire. See the trailer here: youtube.com/watch?v=W6SxPSZVD9o .

You can see the other work of our producers at 1001MediaGroup.com or our other film, LIVING ON ONE DOLLAR, on Netflix. Excited to hear your questions!

My Proof: https://twitter.com/LivingonOne/status/744911187255529473

Comments: 48 • Responses: 9  • Date: 

Chtorrr9 karma

What was the most unexpected experience you had in the refugee camp?

Livingonone7 karma

We found out that there was a refugee run restaurant that could deliver food directly to your tent. How they could find your tent given that there are no addresses or set streets is still a mystery! This showed us that refugees were building a city while the UN was building a camp. There are now over 3,000 businesses in the camp and a multimillion dollar economy. Many are partnerships between Jordanians and Syrians. One of the entrepreneurs we met was turning trash into art! http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/487073/a-day-in-the-life-zaatari-refugee-camp/

arunescaper777 karma

1) What is the one thing you'd like everyone to know about the refugee process?

2) What was your favorite part of the experience?

Livingonone8 karma

The relationships with the people were by far my favorite and the most rewarding part of the experience. We got to meet women like Um Ali - who was collecting trash around the camp and weaving it into baskets and art to sell. She even started teaching other kids to do it. When you see stories like that, you realize that the refugees themselves really are the solution and the ones we need to invest in. You can see a snippet from Um Ali's story on the Atlantic today too: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/487073/a-day-in-the-life-zaatari-refugee-camp/

Livingonone6 karma

  1. Refugees by definition are people who have been forced to flee their country. Every single one of the 85,000 refugees in Za’atari camp have a story that will break your heart but will also fill it with hope. Our neighbor Ismail was studying to become a french teacher when his town was bombed and he had to flee. The thing he wants most now is to restart his college education which is currently not available in Za’atari refugee camp. Luckily he is one of the very very few Syrian refugees who are be resettled and he will be able to restart his education in Canada. Ismail is a main character in our film if you are interested in learning more about him.

arunescaper771 karma

Thanks so much for your response and everything you do, I plan on watching this documentary tonight with my family. We're immigrants from Burma so we find things like this really interesting. Everyone has a story and many times it's so easy to forget that.

Livingonone2 karma

There's such a diversity of refugee experiences too. I look forward to your thoughts on the film, and please don't hesitate to reach out. Our emails are on our website.

leowr6 karma

What turned out to be the most different from your expectations going into this? Both in a positive way and in a negative one?

Livingonone5 karma

What was the most unexpected experience you had in the refugee camp? One first big misconception, is that most refugees live in refugee camps, when in fact over 85% of Syrian refugees live in towns and cities. Second, I think there's a lot of misconceptions about who refugees are, especially in the Syrian context. Syria was a middle income country, and many of those fleeing are incredibly educated and entrepreneurial.

kerovon5 karma

I recently listened to an NPR Podcast that focused on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in South Sudan. One of the more jarring things was that they discussed a severely malnurished child (15 lbs) who the doctors thought was an infant for several days, until she woke up and realized that she was ~3 years old. Just hearing about that level of medical problems was completely jarring. Do you have any similar specific experiences that you saw in the refugee camp, that were both powerful and disturbing to witness that can bring home the severity of the problems?

Livingonone3 karma

Now that there are 4.8 million Syrian refugees outside of the country and 6.6 million people internally displaced within Syria there is a huge diversity in experiences. Some people have an urgent need for basic necessities like food, water and shelter while many have been displaced for 4 years and are figuring out ways to barely eek out an existence. We have to be thinking about this crisis both in short term humanitarian response and the long term development needs of work and education. While we didn’t see acute malnutrition inside the camp, we did hear many stories of people inside of Syria starving because they can’t get access to aid.

StarHorder4 karma

Were you ever scared for your safety at any point?

Livingonone6 karma

Were you ever scared for your safety at any point?

Honestly the most scared we felt was before going. There was so much built up anticipation and even implicit bias towards the region and towards refugees, due in large part to the media we’ve been inundated with. It shows the same violent images repeatedly. When we arrived on that first day though, and families started pouring out of their tents to welcome us in and offer us tea, any fear vanished. Throughout our time, we ended up getting into a routine that felt normal and safe, but like any major city, there are some good and bad people. And that’s what this camp has become - it’s now home to 85,000 Syrians.

setarehbateni2 karma

I have a question! I believe we are all people of one world. My childhood dream has consistently been to see a world without borders. But there's also a special connection with 'home' that can be very healing. Do you find the Refugees you work with are willing to let go of the concept of 'home' so to find dignity elsewhere? Or are they, for the most part, wanting to go 'home' someday. Both are very brave moves, regardless.

1001_MEDIA4 karma

The refugees love their country. Most people we talked to want to go back in the future, but that is not possible right now. Over 80% of infrastructure is destroyed in Syria. In countries like Jordan they are building their lives and building dignity, and we need to support them in terms of work and education so that they can rebuild Syria when the time comes. Some will move on, but the refugees are the hope for a future Syria.

setarehbateni2 karma

Thank you for the response and your work! What is the single most needed resource they need that we can help them with?

Livingonone3 karma

I would say that beyond anything, refugees need the right to work so they can begin rebuilding their lives. Getting there, will rely on a fundamental shift in how we think about refugees. Here's an incredible study out of Oxford that can help us get there: https://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/files/publications/other/refugee-economies-2014.pdf

DagnyNasty-6 karma


Livingonone4 karma

Haha none actually, but I don't blame you for being skeptical. Our team is actually a combo of Arab and Americans coming together to create and collaborate. Hopefully the film and the refugees we met speak for themselves, but let me know what you think afterwards.