Sunday, July 23, 2017

‘The Pursuit of Happiness’:
Portraits of Syrian refugees and IDP’s in Kurdistan, northern Iraq

The war in Syria is entering it’s 6th year. Neighbouring countries are struggling to cope with the immense stream of refugees. Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey offer shelter to an astounding 4,2 million refugees already. Food is scarce, as are safe and affordable places to sleep. Medical care is lacking and hundreds of thousands of children have not been able to go to school for years.

December 2015 VR Gorilla joined forces with Stichting Vluchteling and The International Rescue Committee (IRC) to record short virtual reality portraits of Syrian refugees and IDP’s (internally displaced people) in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. Each portrait tells the story of a person in search of happiness, which to them could be found in the most basic needs.


Zaki lives in Gawilan refugee camp and is so poor that there is never enough food for the entire family.


Farah is a 12-year-old girl, who lives in an unfinished building, which is cold, dirty and has mice and scorpions creeping around.


Mohammed is a 54-year-old Syrian man with two disabled sons. He lives in Domiz, a large refugee camp in Kurdistan, northern Iraq.


Fenjeh has been living in Gawilan refugee camp for three years now. She is a mother of four kids and gave birth to her youngest daughter, Leyla, in the camp.

March 10, 2016

Virtual Reality in a refugee camp:
The hopelessness is visible and tangible

Next week, the war in Syria will enter it’s sixth year. The conditions in which most refugees find themselves are inhumane and degrading. VR Gorilla and Stichting Vluchteling (a Dutch refugee foundation) show this with four portraits, in virtual reality.

You find yourself standing in the middle of a refugee camp in northern Iraq. You look around and you can see first hand the abominable circumstances. You can feel their endless, bitter situation. While experiencing all of this, you can hear the horrific stories of different refugees. This is the power of virtual reality according to VR Gorilla. And for many refugees this is the grim reality of every day.

There is a shortage of shelter for Syrian refugees in the four neighboring countries. Countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are having trouble to shelter the 4,2 million Syrian refugees they have already taken in. The provision of food is limited, proper places to sleep are scarce and costly and medical care is often not available. Hundreds of thousands of children haven’t gone to school for years, and sometimes have to beg to collect a bit of money for their families.

VR Gorilla, an Amsterdam-based virtual reality content producer, developed in collaboration with Stichting Vluchteling and The International Rescue Committee (IRC) four portraits of refugees and IDP’s (Internally Displaced People) in Kurdistan, Iraq. The project is called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. The 360-degree recordings in the refugee camps are daunting, you can see and actually feel the abominable circumstances. “It’s strange to be enthusiastic about something so horrifyingly cruel. But it shows a fair representation of what it’s like to be there. The misery feels so real, you can almost touch it.”, responded Tineke Ceelen, CEO of Stichting Vluchteling. “I wish everyone could see this.”.

These short documentaries will be used by Stichting Vluchteling to inform the Dutch public and to recruit donors.

For more information about the work of Stichting Vluchteling:
For more information about our emergency relief for Syrian refugees: