Authors: Katarzyna Boni, Wojciech Tochman
Title: Kontener (The Container)
Format: 127 x 160 mm
Number of pages: 159
Retail price: PLN 34.99
Publisher: Agora SA
Publishing date: 15 May 2014
Kontener (The Container)
Tales of Syrian refugees
In terms of the size of population, Zaatari is the second largest refugee camp in the world, surpassed only by the Kenyan Dadaab. It is the best-described and mapped-out one. The fourth largest city in Jordan. Two hundred and twenty seven streets. Sixteen thousand households. The maps show each and every building. Besides tents or containers – three thousand other various points: shops, small businesses, schools, clinics, recreational areas, offices, registration centres, washrooms, kitchens, potable water tanks, garbage bins, mosques and even lamp posts. Only the most important ones have been selected, the map has been oriented to Mecca and distributed to the refugees – so they can find their way around. But maps are made mostly for those who run the camp.
In Jordan alone, there are three hundred thousand Syrian minors. Hundreds, if not thousands, wander without an adult to care for them. Each refugee from Syria, whether a child or a grown-up, costs three and a half thousand dollars a year. The world, supportive of Jordan in this respect, covers only thirty percent of expenses. The hosts fear that newcomers will take their jobs and water. The newcomers complain that not every local understands their pain, that they profit from their suffering. It happens. But there is also sympathy, understanding and patience. New exiles arrive every day. It is not for the magnificent Jordanian landscapes that they trudge through the dead of night across the stone desert, not for the sweet tomatoes. They used to have their own back home. They come to live. And to long. When an Arab abandons his beloved woman or dear homeland, he feels ghourba. It is nostalgia, alienation, awareness of expulsion and yearning for things lost. A nagging sensation of being out of place. The word ghourba derives from the dark word gharaba, known in Islam as the opposite of the light word sharaqa.
Sharaqa – rising sun, communing with God.
Gharaba – darkness. Nothing can soothe this. Nothing but return.
Passage from The Container
The Container launches Migrations, a new reportage project by Wojciech Tochman. Each book in this series will be written in collaboration with a graduate from the Polish Institute of Reportage.
Wojciech Tochman (born in 1969) – reporter, non-fiction author. In the years 1990-2004 he worked for Gazeta Wyborcza in the reportage section where, along with Lidia Ostałowska, Beata Pawlak, Mariusz Szczygieł, Jacek Hugo-Bader and others, he formed one of the most distinctive groups of reporters in the history of Polish press, first under the leadership of Hanna Krall and then of Małgorzata Szejnert. Author of: “Schodów się nie pali” [You Don't Burn the Stairs] (2000); “Jakbyś kamień jadła” [Like Eating a Stone] (2002); “Córeńka” [Daughter Dearest] (2005); “Wściekły pies” [Mad Dog] (2007), “Bóg zapłać” [God Bless] (2010), “Dzisiaj narysujemy śmierć” [Today We Will Draw Death] (2010) and “Eli, Eli” [Eli, Eli] (2013). He has also worked in Lithuania, Belarus, Germany, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, Rwanda, Indonesia and the Philippines. His publications have been translated into several languages. He co-produced “Ktokolwiek widział, ktokolwiek wie” [Whoever Saw, Whoever Knows], a TVP1 programme dedicated to locating missing persons. Fundacja Itaka Centrum Poszukiwań Ludzi Zaginionych (Itaka Foundation – Centre for the Search of Missing Persons) was founded in 1999 at his initiative. He volunteered there for ten years. Currently, he is a member of the Foundation’s Council. One of the founders of the Institute of Reportage (2009), where he lectures at the Polish School of Reportage. He publishes in Duży Format – reporters’ weekly supplement to Gazeta Wyborcza.
Katarzyna Boni (born in 1982) – reporter. For the past six years she has collaborated with the largest travel magazines on the Polish market. She also publishes in Gazeta Wyborcza and in Duży Format. She specializes in Asia, where she spent over two years working in Japan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. She is a graduate of the Polish School of Reportage.