Vinasithamby, 64 fled from Sri Lanka, 1984
I had to abandon our home in Sri Lanka in 1984. I walked most of the way, but in order to get to Switzerland I took a boat, a plane and a train as well.
I wasn't able to take much with me besides the clothes I had on. Since I had to leave my family behind, these photos were the only things that were important to me, and luckily I could carry them on me. On the photos you can see my parents, my brother and my sister – who's now deceased.
Five years ago I fled Afghanistan. When I left, I couldn't take anything with me except the clothes I was wearing.
I was very little when my father was killed, so I hardy have any memories of him. He always wore a golden necklace and after he died, my mother gave it to me.
I came to Switzerland by myself and this necklace is everything I have from my family and my homeland. It means the world to me – it makes me feel like I'm not alone, like my father is always with me.
When I was a child, my father would often travel to Africa for work. One time when I was three, I had asked him to bring me back a real life monkey, but he brought me a stuffed bunny he had bought for me during a transit at Zurich Airport.
I took that bunny everywhere. When the war began, everything went so fast I could neither understand what was going on nor think about what I wanted to take with me when we fled. That's how I forgot my bunny when we left. My dad stayed behind, and I wrote him so many letters saying things like: "Did you find my bunny? I miss you!"
I can't describe how I felt when I saw my father again three years later, in 1995. My whole body was trembling when I saw his face at the Airport in Zurich – and saw that he was holding my bunny.