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Looking for Hany

“Don’t forget about the people of the tents,” says Hany Al Moliya in his poetic manner. The 21-year-old from the Syrian city of Homs taught himself English, and used to write poetry while staring at the tree outside his bedroom.

Hany suffers from a debilitating eye condition called ‘nystagus’, which leaves him unable to focus on anything more than ten centimetres away. But his vision problems have not stopped him from seeing himself as an artist. Hany has always lived in the world of his imagination.

In 2011, Hany’s life went through major changes. His oldest sister got married. Then, on 15 March of that year, his brother Ashraf was born. And on the same day, Syria’s conflict began. As the violence escalated, the family fled to neighbouring Lebanon. When Hany left he grabbed only one thing: his high school diploma and transcripts. “These are my life, my future.” he says. “I left everything behind in Syria, but not these.”

In exile, the family lived in a small tent in the Bekaa Valey. Hany realised soon enough what being a refugee meant. Life became a waiting game, a suspended reality where time stood still. “Like any other refugee, I faced many difficulties,” he says “not least getting used to living in a tent.”

But instead of surrendering, Hany picked up a camera and began taking photos. He wanted to tell the world what he and his people were suffering. Looking through the lens, Hany realised the world has become defined and sharp. The camera became his eyes and his voice to the world.

Follow Hany’s journey of self-discovery, and his family’s quest for resettlement, in this five-part series from UNHCR and Channel 4 News starting on Monday, 21 September. We’ll be adding a new episode each day this week.