The past is a foreign country

the story of eight youngsters that washed upon our shores.

Youth is a short season. And for Imad, Maryska, Ibrahim, Raza, Dinesh, Sabo, Jacob and Benjamin it is doubly so. They arrived, were sent, fled or were chased away. Jacob, Raza and Dinesh fled the horrors of war in Sudan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Imad and Benjamin were spit out by the merciless streets of Ghana and Morocco. Maryska and Ibrahim decided to run away from their murderous fathers in Ukraine and Guinea and little Sabo got caught in the web of his family of Syrian Kurdish resistance fighters.

In the beginning of the nineties these seven boys and one girl were born under an other sky but today they are our children. One could call them the harvest of one day, any single day. On average every three hours a child arrives in Belgium without his or his parents, some 1.600 washed upon our shores in the first six months of 2011.

Their new lives start here but the dice were thrown a long time ago. Rape, murder, war, betrayal, domestic violence, drugs and homelessness – they were spared none of the horrors that plague human kind. They survived but the memories that overshadow them are bigger than life.

Journalist and writer Catherine Vuylsteke spent a school year with these youngsters, from September 2010 until June 2011. She shared their lives and gave them a voice.

In the press
Interview in Joos on Radio 1 (dutch)

© Alain Schroeder

© Alain Schroeder

Marwan Miftah in zijn kamer in het internaat Maurice Careme.
© Nick Hannes