One photographer and mom has been waging a personal protest against President Donald Trump’s travel bans by sharing photos of her children traveling in Muslim-majority countries along with stories of kindness.
Kirsty Larmour is British, her husband is Irish, they met in Hong Kong, and then moved for work to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates with their daughters, Saffy, 11, and Indy, 9.
Both ex-pats, Larmour and her husband were used to traveling for work as well as pleasure. So it was only natural they would travel as a family. Saffy’s first flight was to Borneo at 3 months old, and Indy went backpacking around Syria and Jordan when she was just 5 months old. The family even took a year off to travel together, driving from Abu Dhabi to Ireland and back through Central Asia.
It was their travels in the Middle East ― and Trump’s January executive order that banned entrants to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries ― that inspired Larmour to begin sharing a series of photos of her kids on previous family trips to Islamic countries on her Facebook page, which is titled “Letters From The Larmours.”
“I wanted to share the stories of kindness, of openness, of shared humanity that make us all the same. I wanted people to know that these aren’t places I was ever scared to take my children to,” Larmour told The Huffington Post.
The day after Trump signed his initial travel ban, Larmour shared a photo of her then 2 1/2-year-old daughter in the arms of a Syrian man with a caption that begins, “Here’s my daughter in Syria – does she look terrified?”
After Larmour shared that first photo, friends re-shared it and asked her to share more stories, so she did. The photos and stories from the family’s backpacking adventures ― which range from breastfeeding in Syria, to shared picnics in Iran, to a family who offered up their beds for a night in Kyrgyzstan ― seeks to highlight the kindness of people. Since the Larmours often stay with other families as they travel, they had experienced that kindness firsthand.
In the light of the travel ban, which barred Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., Lamour was heartsick over what she saw as misconceptions about the Syrian people, whom she had spent time with on her travels.
“I wanted to shout about how my family was taken in and looked after and how we explored back streets and found little eateries, and then how waiters in restaurants picked my babies up and danced with them and made them smile so my husband and I could eat without juggling two kids,” she said of the family’s time in Syria. “I wanted to show how we felt safe and welcome and how they extended hospitality far beyond what humans are now showing them in return.”
Another photo Lamour has shared shows Indy being kissed by an older woman in Damascus, Syria. The caption begins with, “Here’s a universal fact - Old people love to kiss babies!!!”
Of the moving stories that accompany the images, Larmour says, “I told of finding ways to communicate when there was no shared language, of grannies kissing my babies, of how the sharing of food symbolizes so much that is similar about humanity, of how a simple hand on a shoulder shows someone cares and of the curiosity of children. I feel that if I don’t share the stories of these people then I am wasting the privilege of having been able to travel and meet them.”
Larmour says that while traveling with small children can be difficult, she wants her daughters to see other points of views and be open-minded about the world. She hopes that by sharing her family’s real experiences with the people of other countries, her followers will notice the similarities rather than the differences.
“The media would have us believe that people different from ourselves are scary. That’s just not true. We were met with the most incredible kindness everywhere we went which just further reinforced our view that people just want to live a good life and love their families and get through each day feeling they’ve done OK,” Larmour adds.