Idomeni – A Refugee Childhood

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[dropcap]Idomeni[/dropcap] is an inconspicuious small Greek village located near the Macedonian border, which until of late, was just that, a small Greek village. Yet, from 2015 onwards, Idomeni became a “point of transit” for migrants coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries. Idomeni sits at the beginning of the Balkan route which reaches into Western and Northern European settlement countries. In reaction to this flow of migrants, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia decided to guard its borders by military forces in order to prevent the refugees from entering their country, following Serbia’s decision to close its borders. Thus turing Idomeni into the largest emergency refugee camp in Europe. Around 14.000 people call Idomeni home, almost 40% of them being children. The health conditions in the camp are terrible; the absolute lack of everything from emergency medical aid, food and water was partially filled by international voluntary organisations.

The first time I arrived to the Idomeni camp, I didn’t know what exactly I was going to do. I spent weeks with people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, listening to their stories, trying to understand how does it feel to loose everything; leaving your house, your town, your land, running away from the pain and anger and destruction of war only then realise that you are alone, the people that are supposed to help you, turned their heads away, closed their eyes and closed their borders.

In the midst of all this despair, fear and bewilderment; the thousands of children resisted in the most authentic way: smiling. The children have a light in their eyes that transcends words, and an innocence in their faces, explaining their world view and experiences. We just need to somehow connect with this innocence and listen to those who were forced to flee from war and pain, yet still manages to smile and hope for a better day; surviving in an environment that becomes more hostile by the day, to those whom only ask for a future without conflict or oppression. 

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 “Children know how to make the world a better place. They do it everyday with a clumsiness that makes them powerful. And invincible.” – Anonymous 

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Nicola Vecchione

Born in 1982 in Castellammare di Stabia, a small town close to Naples, Italy. From a young age Nicola had interest for photography, he was touched by the possibility of this medium to tell stories. Always interested in people; the main reason why Nicola has been drawn to street and documentary photography. Nicola has a degree in painting at the art academy of Naples (ABA). After graduating he moved to Milan, then London and then back to Milan again. After ten years working as wedding and event photographer and in the same time shooting in city streets Nicola realised it was important to change direction; to start travelling around the world to document and to tell unspoken stories. “I want to be witness of the world, the unspoken world”.

Insta: @nico.vecchione
FB: niCOvecCHiovecCHione