How to best understand what Syrians have faced over the last four years? Through the 1.1 million refugees the war pushed to Lebanon? The 191,000 victims the conflict took? As overwhelming as these figures can be, they will never illustrate the story of Syrians. Numbers reduce people to soulless statistics and anesthetize our capacity to empathize with the other. Numbers will never be enough.
The thought sparked an idea in Hanane Kai‘s mind, a Lebanese illustrator who, while working with Syrian women refugees in Lebanon, began drawing their stories. “For me stories like this existed only in the movies and on TV,” she posted on Facebook, as she interviewed women in the northern town of Halba, Lebanon.
Her drawing, displayed above, narrates the plight of a Amina, a woman who had to make the choice of fleeing the country to save her four children, leaving her disabled daughter behind. “But my heart couldn’t bear to leave her there.”
“For so long I’ve wanted someone to come,” she told Concern Worldwide‘s Masha Hamilton. “I’ve been waiting to tell my story,” she said, reminding us all that numbers, and not people, are the anecdote.