Refugees’ lifejackets are being used as canvases to tell their life stories

A teacher, a veterinarian, a lawyer, a photographer and an inventor — these people are all refugees, but more importantly, they are human beings.

Now, three Swiss nonprofits — The Voice of Thousands, Borderfree and Schwizerchrüz — along with the advertising agency Jung von Matt have teamed up to tell the life stories of refugees.

They created “Project Life Jacket,” in hopes of showing the world that refugees had jobs, hobbies and dreams before they were forced to flee their homes.

“Project Life Jacket” visited Syrian refugees in the Thessaloniki camp in Greece and the Swiss artist, Matthais Leutwyler, drew the stories of nine refugees onto the lifejacket that he or she wore on their passage.

“We wanted to make something not about the war or about the stories how they came to Europe or to Greece,” said Michael Grossenbacher, the co-president of The Voice of Thousands. “We wanted to show that these people are similar, like you and me. That’s why we just talked with the people about the life before the war.”

“Project Life Jacket” hopes to spread this message using social media.

People can see the lifejacket art and hear the refugees’ stories on the organization’s website. The website displays all nine of the lifejackets and includes an audio component where the refugees can be heard telling their life stories.

Grossenbacher said he hopes the project makes people realize that these people were living normal live just a few years ago before they were forced to flee their homes.

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