The Mejzimi Family

Kosovo refugees photograph by David Turnley
Isaiha Mejzimi, 57, Father
Kosovo refugees photograph by David Turnley
Raxhie Mejzimi, 57, Mother
Photograph by David Turnley
Bukurea Mejzimi, 33, Daughter-in-law
Photograph by David Turnley
Samir Mejzimi, 32, Son

RealAudio: David Turnley
introduces the Mejzimi family.

Photographer's Diary by David Turnley

The magnitude of this tragedy is overwhelming.

To photograph families displaced by war is a disturbing experience. It takes a high psychological toll. I often wonder what my work will do for the lives of these people. While I believe in my mission as a photojournalist, I feel a real need to know the story of one family in the midst of this mass of suffering.

Out of the thousands of anguished Kosovars who make their way across the border, I am drawn to the appearance of this proud man, tenderly protecting his son between his arms, pulling his family with a tractor towards the unknown. I too have a son. I relate to this man.

Samir Mejzimi, age 32, fell in love with his wife Bukurea, age 33, when they met in the fourth grade. They have two sons, Dizar, 5, and Sead, 2. Their immediate family includes father Isaiha, mother Raxhie, sisters Naile, Merjeme and Femie and son Mexhit.

By the time they reach the Albanian border the 24-member Mejzimi family have been on the run, fearing execution, for 48 hours, with only stale bread to eat. At gunpoint, they have had their passports, birth certificates, and license plates confiscated - officially stripping them of their identities.

They have traveled through villages in flames, and have seen bodies alongside the road. Only Samir's father-in-law has stayed behind, refusing to leave.

Crossing the border - into life as a refugee - is a trauma that contrasts a renewed sense of security, the unknown, and the question: will I ever go home?

In this modern day wagon train, the Mejzimi family heads down the only road south, without a clue where they will live and how they will eat.

What the Mejzimis have left is their collective--themselves. For the past five hundred years they have been born in the same house, in a small farming village, 35 kilometers from the Albanian border.

For the baby, the chaos of flight and the fear on his parents faces is shattering. For five-year-old Dizar, the trip is an adventure. For Samir and Bukurea, holding their family together is their only choice.


PAGE 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
View the Index Page
Contents Page Editorials The Platypus Links Copyright
Features Camera Corner War Stories  Dirck's Gallery Comments
Issue Archives Columns Forums Mailing List E-mail Us
 This site is sponsored and powered by Hewlett Packard