Malaysian Photographer Takes Photos Of Refugees With Their Most Valuable Belongings

They remind these refugees of all they have loved and lost since fleeing their countries.

Cover image via Adi Safri/Exposure+

Photographer Adi Sarfi's photos of refugees posing with their most valuable belongings that they escaped with during their journey to Malaysia to seek refuge are at once striking and revealing. Titled 'Home and Away', the results offer a rare glimpse into what do people, in their most desperate time for survival, hold most dear.

Photo of Filsan Jama Muse holding her son. Filsan, who is from Somalia, was pregnant with her son when she escaped, and gave birth to him in Malaysia.

The main challenge Adi says he faced was how to get close to these refugees who've escaped their country, leaving everything behind!

In order to make them comfortable enough to share their lives and belongings with him, Adi says he needed to spend time with them.

Another challenge was to identify the location of their settlements in Malaysia. After we came across his project, we sought permission from him to use his photos for SAYS, a request he happily obliged.

This is Osman Mohamad. An ethnic of Rohingya, Osman, aged 37, is seen holding a book of Hadith, collections of texts purported to quote what the Prophet Muhammad said verbatim on any matter. He brought it from Myanmar and always keeps it with him.

Shaban Amiruddin, aged 18, a Rohingya. She is photographed here with her slippers, which she wore to escape from Myanmar.

Adi Safri, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, says:

"As a human like us, they have the same feeling to keep valuable things beside them. The things that keep their memorable value to their life. For this very reason, I'm interested in doing this project because I want to know about their lives in a deeper manner by learning what valuable and memorable items they have brought with them during the journey to Malaysia to seek refuge."

This is Hawo Mohamed Abubakari. From Somalia, Abubakari is 32 years old. She is photographed with her son, her only child.

Mohamad Haniff Hussain, ethnic of Rakhine, is photographed holding his last 200 Kyat note with which he escaped to Malaysia

This is Salimah Gafu, ethnic of Rakhine, age 36, holding her 9-year-old daughter's dress, who still lives in Myanmar with her relatives

17-year-old Laila Amiruddin is photographed with her school bag which she escaped with from Myanmar. She is an ethnic Rohingya.

31-year old Osman Bilal, ethnic of Rakhine, who escaped to Malaysia. He is photographed holding his engagement photo.
Second from the right is his fiancée, who lives in Myanmar.

This is Tawhidah Mohd Ghafar, an ethnic of Rakhine. She is holding a plate of Thanaka, a traditional herb talc, which she brought from Myanmar. Tawhidah is 18 years old.

It was used for the whole family before she brought it to Malaysia.

18-year-old Abdul Basik is photographed with his slingshot. This is his favourite slingshot which he brought from Myanmar.

Mohd Ghafar Malik, aged 39, ethnic of Rakhine. He is holding a photo of his kids. His one son is in Myanmar under his aunt's care.

This is Bishar Abdisalam. Aged 12, he is from Somalia.
Bishar is photographed holding his shoes given by his father. His father is believed to be lost due to the ongoing war there.

15-year-old Ali Abdisalam is from Somalia. He is photographed wearing 'Goa Shall', a traditional Somali cloth, given by his father. Like Bishar, Ali's father is also believed to be lost.

And lastly, this is 4-year-old Khafid Ahmed Khaif holding his dear toy taken by his Somali mother during their escape to Malaysia...


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