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Art Taking Refuge To Boxes

Quite a few box-shaped rooms… or rooms inside boxes… this may remind us of the song ‘Little Boxes’… but, these boxes are not like them! Even, the shapes of all boxes are not the same. In fact, there is a different story altogether, inside these boxes. If anyone stands in front of one of the boxes with a headphone, the person will know the real story! It is all about the daily lives of people coming from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Sudan!
Iraqi-American citizen Ahmed Badr and Syrian-American national Mohammed Hafeez have tried to give a human touch to these stories. For the last couple of years, these two gentlemen have been trying hard to provide those people with some relief. Hafeez is an architect, while Badr is an author and also an excellent orator! The two gentlemen have started a joint venture, titled: ‘Unpacked: Refugee Baggage’. Hafeez brought some parts of (installation) houses and nature, which have been destroyed in war, in different boxes. And some people, who have taken shelter in the US, are sharing their stories with others, as their experiences and emotions are packed in those boxes…

Badr and Hafeez.jpg
Badr and Hafeez

It is Badr’s job to collect their stories. First, a person tells her/his story through a headphone… and then, Badr and Hafeez exhibit that person’s box at a Refugee Centre in the US. Badr, a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, had arrived in the US from Iraq three-four years ago. He considers Hafeez as his elder brother. Talking to the media, Hafeez said that Badr does not consider himself as a refugee, as he is now a Green Card holder. He thanked Badr for collecting the Refugees’ Stories, which have been shared with people across the globe through their Facebook Page – ‘Unpacked: Refugee Baggage’!
Although Hafeez was born in Damascus, he was brought up in Saudi Arabia. Later, he arrived in the US to complete his studies. As the two have spent many years in the Orient, as well as in the Occident, both Badr and Hafeez try to portray the contradictions (between the two worlds) in their creations. Their exhibition helps refugees recall their past lives. Badr and Hafeez believe that it is important for the Global Community to allow the refugees to share their pain with others…


Hafeez explained that he had suddenly become a refugee due to the ongoing Civil War in Syria. So, he feels the pain… and tries to feel that of others’ (pain) through their own lenses, and not through romanticism! The Syrian-American further said that he and Badr would highlight the condition of Mexican refugees in the US in near future. Meanwhile, Hafeez reminded us that many people leave their homes to be refugees because of scourges, like Global Warming, and Financial, as well as other forms of, Crises, all of a sudden… Hafeez had also come to the US as a student. After studying for six years, he became an architect. He has already spent 16-17 years in the US. Although he managed to get a Green Card, many of his relatives are yet to get it. He recalled that he was unable to visit his motherland for more than eight years, as it was bit difficult for a refugee from a war-torn country to get a passport!
Badr had arrived in the US at a young age. He, too, shared his experience with the media. According to Badr, the American people have a tendency to consider foreigners as refugees. The Iraqi-American said that he and Hafeez would try to work on a different project: How to Create a Society, where People from different Cultural Backgrounds could Co-exist Peacefully.


Politics has already divided the civil society. People fear the foreigners not only in the US, but everywhere in the world. I do believe that artists can bridge this gap,” stressed Hafeez. Perhaps, the modern world needs more human beings, like Badr and Hafeez…

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