My name is Ola Ajek. I am from Syria, more precisely from Damascus. Before I came to Denmark, I had studied a year at the University for Architecture and Design. It was very expensive to study architecture during the war. The food was expensive, electricity rarely came, the water was contaminated and sometimes there was no water at all. Not to mention arrests and killing of innocent people. Because of this, my father decided to flee Syria. He came to Denmark and after 1.5 years, the rest of my family came through family reunification. Having to endure a year and a half without my father was really hard, especially in a country torn apart by war. When I arrived in Denmark, I was 18 years old.

It feels horrible to read something like this after a long day at school. To send families to camps without having the right to work, to learn Danish or to integrate is the worst possible thing. It is like a big prison. Most refugees I know try their best to become an active part of society, but when they hear things like these, they will become depressed. 

"An Oksbøl-camp, like the one we had for the German war-refugees". In this Sunday's version of "Vi ses hos Clement", Marie Krarup said that she would prefer if refugees in Denmark stayed in a camp like that. 

My sister and I share a room and have done it since we were little, but we are very different. She loves teddy bears and her bed is full of them, while I am more quiet. She goes to STX and I have chosen HF. She is very realistic, and I am a dreamer. Each of us has our own personality, interests and goals, but that does not prevent us from being friends and sisters. We argue a lot, but we always become friends again.

I compare myself to a baby who have to learn everything from the beginning. I have been in Denmark for 3.5 years now and every day I learn something new.

I play Taekwondo two days a week and it is what I look forward to the most in my daily life. It gives me energy and I learn to balance the body and the brain. I also relax by looking at the sky or going for a walk. 

Autumn in Denmark has such a beautiful color. The weather changes between sunny and rainy, the leaves fall from the trees, making the streets full of them. 

When I want to relax, I look at the sky. Especially when the sun goes down. The view is just amazing and it changes every day. At this point, I was doing my homework. 

I look at the sunset and remember the rest of my family who still lives in Syria. I really miss them and hope we can meet some day.

Reading is my paradise, and starting the day with a good book means that the day will be good too. The staircase on the second picture is from the place where I spend most of my time – my school. Here, I learn many things about science, but I also get to know people. I believe that we as individuals are good as long as we are willing to learn and try new things.

Eating with my family after a long hard day gives me a peace of mind and energy to continue my daily life. We are five in my family and it is rare that someone misses dinner. It is so important that we sit around the table and eat together. We spend the time talking about our day and what is going on in our lives.

In my spare time, I read books in Arabic or Danish, other times I help the Arabic children write or read Arabic. I volunteer in 'Bydelsmødre' where women from different nationalities meet up to socialize. I am also a volunteer in an international network called Globally Connected, working with the Syrian diaspora in countries such Lebanon and Jordan and European countries. 

When I have to wait for the train or have nothing to do, I sit and draw or make a bookmark with different sentences. They warm my heart and give me the power to continue in life.

about the project

INSIGHT is a series of photo essays taken and written by refugees living in Denmark. With financial support from the Danish fund; Hjælpefonden Journalistgården, Refugee.Today has been able to give 10 refugees the opportunity to show us their lives in Denmark.

The participants in INSIGHT live in various parts of Denmark, from Hjørring to Bornholm, and are of different nationalities and backgrounds. They are all reefugees with a residence permit in Denmark, but first of all they are individuals. In the course of 7 days these people have documented their everyday lives through photography and words.

By letting refugees be in charge of the camera, Refugee.Today offers an insight into a world that is not always accessible to the public. Refugees and integration are heavily disputed topics in Danish society, but rarely are the voices and viewpoints of the refugees themselves visible in the debate.

Through these photo essays the viewer is offered a gaze into everyday life as a newcomer in Denmark. How does the Danish society look through their eyes? How is everyday life as a refugee in a new country taking place? How is the past and present balanced for people who have had to flee their homes?