I Became Awestruck 2021

I became awestruck as I stood behind my lens, took my first step towards Asma's home at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, then composed and captured this monumental moment in time.

I was there on assignment to document behind-the-scenes for HOME Storytellers upcoming documentary film. I was immediately taken back with the beautiful display of joy spreading from human to human among the hot, dry, desert air and sun. After overcoming many obstacles, we finally were inside this high security compound. The following visual story captures with true authenticity a look into Asma's "day in the life". A life full of dedication, resilience, love, hope, inspiration, human connection, self-reliance, womanhood and most of all, empowerment.

ASMA 2021

Asma was forced to flee her worn torn county when she was just 17 years old with a child in hand and one on the way. Now, age 28, she has 4 children under the age of 12. As I work behind my lens and learn more about her life, I am amazed by Asma's grace at such a young age and reminded of my days past. I too am a mother of 4 children, but I am 56 years old, and my children are all in their 20's, now each finding their own way in this interweaving, challenging world we all share. Even though Asma is the same age as my oldest daughter, we share the common thread and bond of motherhood which brings us closer together. I sense that Asma finds comfort as do I in our shared experiences. From the trials and tribulations of taking care of 4 children to the incredible joy each one brings. Our backgrounds and opportunities are worlds apart, but we share the heavy load of motherhood, the joys, tears, protect, comfort, clean, teach, inspire, discipline, grow and most important , TO DREAM.

To Dream… 2021

I am once again taken back, behind my lens, I compose and look at Asma. I watch her as her story continues to unfold. There is much to reflect on, learn and I know now that Asma has so much more to share and to offer our global community.

Asma teaches us to continue to dream and to go after that dream. She is a true inspiration, and shows us how you must be the best person you can be, no matter what your circumstances may be.

"One of the greatest misconceptions of refugees is that they are a burden on society. The reality is mostly the complete opposite. Overwhelmingly, they enrich and better the societies which adopt them. Be it Albert Einstein or Steve Job’s father, a migrant from Syria, the roll call of history is undeniable. Can anyone imagine today without Apple, let alone the theory of relativity?" quoted from Arete journalist and celebrated correspondent Jonathan Clayton.

Note: The text above was written by the Artist. No modification was made by COCA.

Patti Bartelstein

United States


Patti Bartelstein (American, 1965), also known as Bella Luca, is a Visual Artist and Founder of The Project Room. She is a Photo Documentary Storyteller, Visual Artist, Curator, & Creative Strategist. She is collaborative and creative, visionary and pragmatic, a dreamer and a doer. Her dedication is to visual storytelling. A master of elevating timely moments, classically preserving history and capturing the day in your life ordinary moments which become extraordinary and eye opening. Humanitarian projects, bringing to light refugee self-reliance stories, have been on the forefront of some of her projects today. Bella was Producer for the award-winning short documentary film No Single Origin and behind-the-scenes photographer for the upcoming HOME Storyteller's film, The Neighborhood Storyteller.
The results of The Project Room programs have been proven to expose and support critical work in the creative fields which directly inspire action to positively impact our world.

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