The Middle East – Travelling and at Home

14.3.2018 - 2.9.2018

Photographs by Helinä Rautavaara and Immigrant Stories

On her journey to India, 1955–1957, Helinä Rautavaara spent some time in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. She met fashionably dressed students in Homs, visited Damascus and Aleppo as a tourist, toured the ruins of Palmyra and stayed with a local family in Baghdad. In Afghanistan, Rautavaara passed through the Khyber Pass region.

In past decades, wars have ravaged large parts of the Middle East and Afghanistan. Many of the places that were photographed by Helinä Rautavaara on her travels in the 1950s have since been destroyed.

In 2015, more than a million asylum seekers came into Europe. Of them, more than 32,000 ended up in Finland and most of those came from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Wherever they are from, these new settlers carry their former home country in their heart. After seeing Rautavaara’s travel photographs, eight of these displaced people have shared with us some of their memories.

Photo: Helinä Rautavaara

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