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The Most Important Thing

Imagine your family had 1 minute to flee your home. What 1 thing would you take with you? Inspired by the photographer Brian Sokol's original project 'The Most Important Thing', we asked refugee families, celebrities and members of the public to contemplate this heart-wrenching decision. Here are their stories. Please read and then pin a picture of yourself with your most important thing or upload one to this board at

The Most Important Thing

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If international footballer James Rodriguez was forced to flee, the most important thing he would bring with him is his football.

If football legend Eric Cantona was forced to flee, the most important thing he would bring with him is a pen and paper. - Visit 1 family -

I would bring my telephone because this is where all my family and friends information is and hopefully that would allow me to reach them at some point. Suzanne from the UK - Visit 1 family -

I would bring my Nana's ring to remind me where I came from. Sarah-Jane from the UK - Visit 1family-

Carlos fled El Salvador to Mexico after he was threatened by gang members.The most important things he brought with him included a figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Catholic figure), an owl figure, earrings that belonged to his grandmother and a hairstyling tool. UNHCR / M. Echandi - Visit 1family:

World Refugee Day 2014 - UNHCR

I would take along a photo of my family, which is most precious to me. Roland from the UK - Visit 1family -

Sada is holding her son, born 3 months ago in Sousha camp,Tunisia. The baby's father disappeared when he tried to cross into Lampedusa. Sada fled conflict in Somalia, travelling on a dangerous boat journey to Tunisia. The most important thing she brought with her was her child. Since her husband disappeared he is her only family. UNHCR/ J. Gouyou Beauchamps - Visit 1family:

If I was forced to flee, I would take my trainers to help me cope with the long walk ahead, and hopefully to help me run back home when the chance came.Claire from the UK - Visit 1family -

Phillip and his family lived in the Burmese jungle for 9 years. He then moved to a Thai refugee camp, where he lived for another 11 years in very poor living conditions. He arrived in Canada in 2006 with his wife, also a refugee, who he had met in a camp. The most important thing he brought with him is a traditional Karen hat which is symbolic of the many hats he has worn; as survivor, a refugee and now as a businessman. UNHCR/ L. Nechita - Visit 1family

The one thing I would bring is my laptop, which contains thousands of photos of my family, especially all the pictures I have taken of my kids since they were born. Glenn from the UK - Visit 1family -

I would take my epi-pen, perhaps not the most emotional thing but it's practical and could save a life. Shivani from the UK - Visit 1family-

Hassan fled his home in Somalia seeking refuge in Poland. The most important thing he wanted to bring was his family. "My family was most important, but I had to leave them behind. I have some pictures, it's the birth certificates I recently received, that count" he says. Hassan has a large family and he needed their birth certificates to bring them to Poland. UNHCR/R.Kostrzyński - Visit 1family:

Adan, his wife and their two daughters fled El Salvador after he was threatened by a gang member. Adan worked in the police which made him a target of Salvadoran gangs. The most important things they brought with them were their Bibles and the religious notebooks of their daughters. UNHCR / M. Echandi - Visit 1family:

Paola decided to take a cafetiere and a bag of coffee. Paola from the UK - Visit 1family -

Somwe is a Congolese refugee living in Osire Refugee Settlement in Namibia. She fled with her children to escape war and persecution. The most important thing she brought with her was this t-shirt which she was wearing when she fled. UNHCR/ E. Carlaccini - Visit 1family:

Sayad and his son Ramin fled Afghanistan in 2009 because he had been a hostage of the Taliban. He managed to escape with the help of a work colleague but only after he had witnessed the death and torture of others. The most important thing that Sayad brought with him to Hungary was his ring which was a gift from his mother “I always think of her when I look at it.” UNHCR A.Anca - Visit 1family:

1 thing that I would take is my mobile telephone in order to stay in touch with family and friends - respecting the principle of unity of the family is one of the primary means of protecting the refugee family.Alexander from the UK - Visit 1family -

The most important thing that Chief Maung Bia brought with him when he fled were his people. "However, there is one thing I realized a few days ago, this wall clock has fled and been with me over 17 years. It keeps running no matter where it is and no matter what happens. I also have to keep living my life no matter what happens." - Maung Bia from Thailand - Visit 1family:

Elizabeth decided to take her copy of The Bible.Elizabeth from the UK- Visit 1family -

Sebadiri Mbarushimana, and his family fled from rebel forces that burnt their house down in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are now living in the Rwamwanja refugee settlement in Uganda. The most important thing they brought with them was this shirt and some other pieces of cloth which kept them warm at night and protected them from thorns while they were escaping into the bush. ©UNHCR/L.Beck - Visit 1family:

If I had to flee my house, I would try to take the hard disk with all my pictures in it and as many pictures I can fit in my hands. Pictures make up your memories and those are irreplaceable. Alice from the UK - Visit 1family -

Uptej would take his ceremonial sword. "The sword would keep me safe and keep me close to my principles of dignity, respect, courage, valour and forgiveness." Uptej from the UK - Visit 1 family -

Wais is a refugee from Afghanistan. He was 15 when he fled to Poland because of growing feuds between local warlords in Parwan. The most important things he brought with him were gifts from his mother. "My mother gave me a ring and some family pictures. They are my most precious souvenirs," he says. UNHCR/R.Kostrzyński - Visit 1family:

The one thing I would take with me would be the keys to my house. If I were forced to flee, the hope of returning home one day would be a source of comfort. Laura from the UK - Visit 1family -

Mehran fled Pakistan in 2012. He travelled for more than a year until he reached a safe haven in Portugal. His most important thing is a gift from his mother – a talisman – that gave him strength during the journey. © CPR/ António Pedro Ferreira. - Mehran from Portugal - Visit 1family: