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

Year: 2015

The war in Syria is entering its 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.

Client / partner: Stichting Vluchteling & IRC
Production Company: VR Gorilla
Director: Peter van Apeldoorn
DOP: Daan Tan

In The Media:

Stichting Vluchteling
Hypergrid Business



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.

The pursuit of happiness: Mohammed


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

The pursuit of happiness: Fenjeh


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.

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