Looking for Hany
Our five-part series follows an aspiring young artist who fled Syria with his family and must cope with a debilitating eye condition.
Hany Al Moliya never imagined he’d become a refugee. But three years ago, after members of his family were killed in their homes in Syria, he and his remaining relatives fled the country.
Follow Hany’s journey of self-discovery, and his family’s quest for resettlement, in this five-part series from UNHCR and Channel 4 News.
Episode 1: Still Lives
The series opens in Lebanon, as Hany introduces his family and describes his love of photography. Because of a debilitating eye condition, he can’t focus on anything more than 10 centimetres away. The camera is his window onto the world, and also a means of self-expression. “I want to show the whole world how we are living,” he says.
Episode 2: Because We Are Too Many
Back in Syria, Hany’s father was a farmer. But now, as one of more than a million refugees in Lebanon, he cannot find work, leaving his family dependent on food vouchers. “It’s painful to see what has become of us,” says Hany.
Episode 3: The Call That Changed It All
Hany is losing hope. Three years have passed since the war in Syria began, and Hany sees his dreams slipping further away. Then one day he gets a life-changing phone call.
Episode 4: On the Road Again
It’s Hany’s last day in Lebanon, a bittersweet goodbye before embarking on a new life abroad. “At last some hope for my family,” he says. “And for me, maybe even a cure for my eyes.”
Episode 5: A Home from Homs
As his family begin to adjust to their new home, Hany goes to see an eye doctor. “Every day I think of all the people we left behind,” he says. “All of us dream for one thing: the right to a future wherever we are.”
Learn More About Hany
“Don’t forget about the people of the tents,” says Hany Al Moliya. The 21-year-old from the Syrian city of Homs taught himself English, and used to write poetry while staring at the tree outside his bedroom.
Hany suffers from an eye condition called ‘nystagus’, which leaves him unable to focus on anything more than ten centimetres away. But his vision problems have not stopped him from seeing himself as an artist. Hany has always lived in the world of his imagination.
In 2011, Hany’s life went through major changes. His oldest sister got married. Then, on 15 March of that year, his brother Ashraf was born. And on the same day, Syria’s conflict began. As the violence escalated, the family fled to neighbouring Lebanon. When Hany left he grabbed only one thing: his high school diploma and transcripts. “These are my life, my future.” he says. “I left everything behind in Syria, but not these.”
In exile, the family lived in a small tent in the Bekaa Valey. Hany realised soon enough what being a refugee meant. Life became a waiting game, a suspended reality where time stood still. “Like any other refugee, I faced many difficulties,” he says “not least getting used to living in a tent.”
But instead of surrendering, Hany picked up a camera and began taking photos. He wanted to tell the world what he and his people were suffering. Looking through the lens, Hany realised the world has become defined and sharp. The camera became his eyes and his voice to the world.