Graduation Date

Fall 12-13-2019

Grading Professor

Alia Malek

Subject Concentration


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


A family of Afghan asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesvos had found a trace of stability in their lives. They lived in a house, found jobs, were developing new skills and were even nurturing some creative vein while they waited for their asylum interview scheduled for early 2020. But all that was taken away, abruptly, when they were transferred to Athens in mid-September.

The illusive feeling of stability is something the family knows all too well.

Raziye, the mother, has been a refugee for four decades and her children their entire life. Raziye and her late husband fled Afghanistan to Iran in 1979 during the Soviet invasion. They received asylum in Qom where, eventually, their children were born and raised.

After their father passed away, in 2013, the family had difficulty to subsist and repay money they had borrowed for their father’s medical expenses. Raziye was being pressured to marry her daughters to their first cousins.

The family left Iran in 2017. They crossed the border with Turkey on foot. A few months later, they attempted twice to cross the Aegean Sea on a raft. On November 2018, they finally landed on a beach on Lesvos. The family spent their first Greek winter in the notorious Moria refugee camp. They were able to move to a house in the spring. The relative tranquility lasted six months. From September 2019 on they have been embroiled on a bureaucratic rollercoaster.

The family is among the more than 6 million people estimated to have left Afghanistan since 1979. Four decades marked by endless conflicts and occupations, from the Soviet invasion, to a civil war, to the Taliban regime, and the US-led invasion have put the Afghan population in constant flux. Afghans are the second largest population of refugees in the UNHCR system. On the Greek islands, by the end of 2019, Afghans made up 47% of the total number of migrants and asylum seekers.

Link to capstone:

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_1.jpg (2064 kB)
A boy swims in the North Aegean Sea, somewhere between Turkey and Greece

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida1.mp4 (82930 kB)
Asiye plays the guitar

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_8.jpg (1450 kB)
Helma and Asiye at a bus stop

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_9.jpg (1771 kB)
Two little girls at bus stop

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_7.jpg (1738 kB)
Asiye at the porch

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_10.jpg (1644 kB)
Three young Afghans at bus stop

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_23.jpg (1330 kB)
Bus to Moria - Kara Tepe

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_21.jpg (2123 kB)
Bus stop in Mytilini

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_22.jpg (1864 kB)
Young asylum seekers make peace signs

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_26.jpg (1984 kB)
Two Afghan men try to catch fish

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_16.jpg (2371 kB)
Young people and child in Moria refugee camp

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_12.jpg (2602 kB)
Somali women walk to Moria refugee camp

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_29.jpg (2077 kB)
A child shows her toy in Moria refugee camp

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_31.jpg (2481 kB)
shipping containers and tents in Moria refugee camp

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_19.jpg (2728 kB)
showers, tents and children in Moria refugee camp

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_11.jpg (2178 kB)
Moria refugee camp seen from the road

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida2.mp4 (45194 kB)
MSF clinic outside Moria

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida3.mp4 (29482 kB)
Efi Latsoudi, Lesvos Solidarity

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida4.mp4 (14175 kB)
waves Aegean Sea

AUDIO_Sterenberg_Frida1.mp3 (20942 kB)
The Aegean Sea crossing by Asiye

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida5.mp4 (10392 kB)
Coast Guard ship

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida6.mp4 (12318 kB)
curtain blowing

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida7.mp4 (68793 kB)
Raziye baking bread

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_2.jpg (858 kB)
Portrait of Helma

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_6.jpg (1591 kB)
Portrait of Asiye

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_4.jpg (1568 kB)
Asiye and Negin

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_3.jpg (1840 kB)
Portrait of Negin

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida8.mp4 (79101 kB)
Video-portrait of Sami

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida9.mp4 (110977 kB)
Helma photos

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida10.mp4 (73637 kB)
Asiye home

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_24.jpg (2057 kB)
Statue of Liberty

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_5.jpg (2417 kB)
Family portrait

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_27.jpg (1931 kB)
mini churches on the road

PHOTO_Sterenberg_Frida_25.jpg (2638 kB)

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida11.mp4 (92065 kB)

AUDIO_Sterenberg_Frida2.mp3 (6231 kB)
Gianna testimonial

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida12.mp4 (66238 kB)

VIDEO_Sterenberg_Frida13.mp4 (82897 kB)
Afghan party



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