We’ve all asked ourselves the question: “If your house were burning down and you could only save one thing, what would it be?” For me it would be my pictures- or my computer, which has most of them in digital format, but thankfully I have never been in a situation where I’ve really needed to make that decision. However, 43.7 million refugees around the world have been less fortunate, forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. NYC based photographer Brian Sokol featured some of the people who have made that painstaking decision to abandon their homes and the lives they once knew to protect themselves and their families. In a series for the UN Refugee Agency called The Most Important Thing, Sokol took captivating black and white photos of refugees from Syria, Mali, and Sudan with their most prized posessions.
To see what each person chose- from their holy books to their children, beloved pets, to plastic drinking vessels (like the ones so many of us throw away dozens of each week) is definitely humbling. In a society of plenty that inspires greed and desire, it is easy to forget how very lucky we are. So the next time first world problems get you down, remember that there are some people who would give anything to live in your conditions, with a computer to read this and a roof over their heads.