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#MyEscape - The Project

January 20, 2016

What's it like to travel to Europe as a refugee? In our report, refugees use mobile-phone videos to tell us how they left home, made the long journey across Europe, and arrived in Germany.


Hundreds of thousands of refugees have now come to Germany, leaving civil war and persecution behind them. In their search for safety, they undertook a long and sometimes hazardous journey. For many refugees a moble phone is indispensable. They use it to organize their travel, and communicate with other refugees and their relatives back home. For some, a phone is essential to their survival. The documentary film #MyEscape brings together a number of refugees' accounts. These people saw no future in staying in their home countries, so they left. We show them at various points in their journey, their arrival in Germany, and their first impressions of their new surroundings.

15.01.20116 Doku MyEscape Flüchtlinge mit Handys
For many refugees, a mobile phone is indispensable for organizing their journey

Hamber al-Assa is one of these refugees. He left Syria, and followed the "Balkan route" to Germany. He's a doctor by profession -- but he can't practice in Germany until he gets the proper qualifications. Still, he wants to return to Syria as soon as possible -- to set up his own medical center. An entire group of people left Syria as a last resort: Ahmed Alwan, his wife Heba, their daughter Jana, and Ahmed's friend Saleh Zeer. The city they lived in, Idlib, was heavily damaged in the civil war. After Islamist fighters took over the city, Ahmed could no longer work as a journalist. The militants even threatened him, and that's when the group decided to leave. All of them want to return to Syria as soon as the situation there improves. Ahmed wants to go back to work as a journalist, Heba wants to use her skills as an architect to help rebuild Syria, and Saleh wants to finish work on his engineering degree.

15.01.20116 Doku MyEscape Jana
Ahmed and Heba Alwan brought their one-year-old daughter Jana on their journey to Germany.

16-year-old Toba Shirmohammadi is from Afghanistan. She also traveled over the "Balkan route" to Germany. Toba, her two sisters, and their husbands had no choice but to leave their homeland. They're from the city of Herat -- and Toba was concerned about recent attacks on schoolgirls, who simply wanted to get an education. Toba wants to take courses that will prepare her for college. Now that she's arrived in Germany, she hopes to make that dream come true.

15.01.20116 Doku MyEscape Toba mit Filmteam
16-year-old Toba from Afghanistan shows our film crew videos taken on her mobile phone.

The documentary film #My Escape lets refugees speak for themselves. In extensive interviews, they describe the videos that they shot on their phones while travelling to Europe. These are impressive and moving first-person accounts of people who overcame hardship as part of their effort to build a new life for themselves.

The documentary film #My Escape is a co-production of DW, WDR, and Berlin Producers.