Poets, illustrators, math teachers, students, writers, designers – these are the real faces of refugees leaving Syria for safety in Europe. Two filmmakers cycling through Turkey have given us an inspiring look at some of the individuals from the mass of pilgrims departing boats there.

Their video reveals the hidden side of the Syrian refugee crisis and offers a much-needed glimpse into the often optimistic attitudes of the people fleeing despair.

“I am hoping for a better future. As long as there is hope and young people,” says a man in the documentary. “There are people giving their lives… through humanitarian help, through moral support, through solidarity. When I witness these things I have faith in the future. They will leave a great mark.”

“Because we only see refugees as numbers in the news and only see the horror, it was our intention to show the personal side of these people,” said Tomas Kamphuis, co-creator of the film. “We wanted to show the positive side of the Syrian people since the news didn’t cover that part well enough. I guess we wanted to take on a similar objective as Good News Network.”

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A young woman shared her determination to go back to Syria and help rebuild her country after the war is over: “We didn’t move here because we wanted to, it’s not our choice. But we will do something. We’re not just going to step out and leave our country like that. Every war [must] have an ending.”

After the creators of the film, production manager Max Jansen and editor-in-chief Kamphuis, left their Amsterdam home in July and pedaled over 2,000 miles, they noticed a serendipitous coincidence.

“We started cycling with the goal of finding interesting stories,” Tomas said. “However, along the way we found out that we were pretty much cycling the route that refugees take in the opposite direction to get into Europe–and we realized we needed to tell their stories.”

MORE: Sikhs Set Up Free Bakery Near War Zone to Feed Fleeing Syrians

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After a young Syrian translator known as Fadil volunteered to help with the interviews, they hit the streets conducting over 30 interviews in 5 days.

The results are breathtaking.

“Asking the Syrians themselves how they look at the situation, or how they think about the future, is a great way to get to know the heart of the Syrians,” Tomas told the Good News Network. “It’s amazing how helpful they can still be, even when they lost about everything. This made us look up to them. It’s inspiring.”


Since Max and Tom released the five-minute documentary on their website, Freewheeling Stories, the positive reviews expressing compassion and admiration for the brave asylum-seeking subjects have poured in.

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The Dutch pair hope their intimate view continues bringing perspective and enlightenment to onlookers around the world. Click To Share With Your Friends...

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