Years after fleeing war-torn Syria, this man learns what's left of his old home
'The idea of home, even the physical home, has changed after we lost everything,' said Hani Al Moulia
Hearing what remains of his childhood home in Homs, Syria, is a surreal experience for Hani Al Moulia.
Al Moulia, then 18, and his family fled Homs, in western Syria, for a refugee camp in Lebanon in 2012. While there, he met Chris Reardon, the UN Refugee Agency's chief of content.
This year, Reardon found himself in Al Moulia's old neighbourhood. He knew he had a unique opportunity, so he took notes of what he saw as he explored the now-deserted part of town.
Reardon described the experience as "profoundly uncomfortable ... witnessing the aftermath of a deeply personal tragedy."
In an open letter he penned to Al Moulia, Reardon wrote: "I stopped by your house today, but you weren't home. No one was home. Your parents weren't there to join us for tea, and there was no sign of your brothers or sisters. Your neighbours were away, too."
"I would have knocked, but your front door is missing."
Al Moulia has spent so long trying to forget what he left behind that when Reardon described the house's current state, the emotions were complex.
"This is the place where I grew up. I can't really describe thinking about this," he said. "The idea of home, even the physical home, has changed after we lost everything."
In 2015, his family settled safely in Regina, Sask. Al Moulia has picked up where he left off with his education as a computer engineering student at Ryerson University in Toronto.
"I was ready to come to Canada," Al Moulia said. "Every morning I think about, still, those who are the unlucky ones who didn't make it to such a place."
Written by Émilie Quesnel. Produced by Jessica Linzey.