Migrant children at play

Among the hundreds of thousands of people making their way across Europe, fleeing conflict and poverty in places like Syria and Iraq, there are many families whose young children find things to smile about even after harrowing experiences and long journeys. Their parents often carry everything they own in a backpack or two, making dolls and Legos an impossible luxury, but children are resourceful and find joy and distraction for hours in simple things — an empty can to kick around, cardboard boxes to build a fort, or a cemetery transformed into a hide-and-seek labyrinth.

Volunteer groups aiding migrants ask for donations — not just food, clothing and medical supplies, but balls, balloons, teddy bears, magic markers, coloring books or paper and any simple toy children can use while they wait at border camps or train stations for the next set of authorities to decide their fate. Until they reach their destinations, smiling adults are hard to find. Their faces reflect their travails and the uncertainty they're dealing with. Making a child smile is easier. A candy bar, a small toy, even a game of peek-a-boo brightens their day.

Here's a gallery of photos taken by Associated Press photographers around Europe showing children on the migrant trail.

Text from AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Children find simple joys along migrant trail

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Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A California native, Castañeda works primarily in video and collage, with an emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials remaining an important aspect of all her projects. Common issues in Castañeda’s work are the conflating of iconography and pornography, the questioning of traditional gender binaries, and the role of technology within personal narratives. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In addition to her art practice, Castañeda currently works at The Associated Press where she leads a team that curates AP's online archive of historic and contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s photography has appeared in the New York Times,U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.