Persecuted by the Islamic State and fearing for their lives, the Qasu family fled their home in Iraq on Aug. 3, 2015, escaping to Turkey. For 15 months, the family of six lived cramped in an apartment, barely scraping by.
The father, Samir, paid a smuggler $10,000 to take him, his wife Bessi, his daughters Delphine and Dunia, and sons Dilshad and Dildar on a boat to Lesbos, Greece. Trapped on an overcrowded, broken-down vessel in the choppy Aegean Sea, the Qasus were rescued and brought ashore by Greek officials.
And this, is where our story begins.
The Qasu family cries while embracing one another shortly after arriving on a vessel that traveled from from the Turkish coast, before dawn on Dec. 3, 2015, to Lesbos, Greece. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
At an emotional landing in Lesbos, the Qasus met Associated Press photographer Muhammed Muheisen, who joined them on their week-long journey into Europe. The group traveled all day and most of the night on foot, by ferry, bus, and train, across multiple borders, and through at least four registration centers in several countries, until finally reaching a refugee housing complex in Heidelberg, Germany.
With more than one million refugees and migrants having crossed into Europe last year, the Qasu's story isn't unique, but that doesn't make it any less extraordinary. Below, an intimate look at a week in the life of a migrant family.
Dec. 3 | The Qasus huddle together until midnight when they are able to board a ferry traveling to Athens, Greece. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 5 | The Qasus approach Macedonian army officers as they cross through a fence at the Greek-Macedonian border. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 5 | The Qasus wait, at a registration camp near the Macedonian town of Gevgelija, to board a train heading to the Serbian border. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 6 | Dildar (with the blue hat) and other refugee children chase bubbles to pass the time in Adasevci, Serbia. The Qasus wait to take a bus to the train station in Sid, Serbia, where they will travel to Croatia. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 6 | Delphine and her father Samir sleep in a bus before taking their train to Croatia. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 7 | The Qasus eat in a gas station restaurant in Kammern, on the Austrian border, before being transported to Salzburg, Austria. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 8 | Delphine, Dunia, and Bessi are searched by a German police officer shortly after arriving in Freilassing, Germany, from Austria. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 8 | Delphine rests her head on her father's shoulder after arriving by train at a resting point in Mannheim, Germany. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 9 | A German soldier records information about the Qasus as part of their asylum-seeking process at the Central Registration Center in Heidelberg, Germany. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 9 | A German officer takes a photo of Samir at the Central Registration Center in Heidelberg. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 10 | Delphine is comforted by Dilshad in their new temporary home at Patrick Henry Village, in Heidelberg. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Dec. 10 | The Qasus laugh shortly before posing for a picture in Heidelberg. | (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)