Amira, image from www.tearfund.org
I researched this piece because I felt frustrated about the way the media were reporting what was happening in Syria. I wanted to find out what it was like for a girl my age living there. That’s when I came across Amira’s story.
Premise : it’s unsafe for you to walk to school. Your neighbours are being bombed one by one. No one is helping.
Amira is an ordinary 16 year old girl. She enjoys pop music, boys and using her mobile phone. But along with 30 million other children and young adults around the world, she’s fleeing persecution.
Amira and her family were sitting huddled together trying to sleep though the sound of bombs getting closer and closer. That night the bombs were raining down on her and her neighbours closer than ever. People were running from their destroyed houses, leaving all their possessions behind, to seek safety elsewhere. Suddenly a rocket landed on Amira’s roof. They sprinted in fear, running to find refuge in their neighbour’s house, as they ran away the rocket exploded. Amira watched as her home was destroyed.
Amira and her family knew they couldn’t stay. That night they left Syria. Leaving everything that they knew and loved in the hope of safety. “We escaped that night in a rented car. Whenever we passed a checkpoint we hid under the seats of the car and the driver covered us up.” They were dropped near the border and had to walk 100 metres across the mountain to the border. As they got close to safety, they heard a plane over head, “… we started running. We were very scared.”
When they arrived at the refugee camp, they were surrounded by a sea of hundreds of tents. “We bought some materials to make a tent – some wood and plastic sheeting.” Their tent has two rooms and a kitchen area, which they share with thirteen other people.
“We’ve been here for three years now. We miss everything about home. We would love to go back.” In the refugee camp there’s no available work left and they can’t go to school, yet, “ everything is so expensive here. We even have to pay for water.” To pass time they do each other’s hair, listen to popular songs on TV, or draw pictures of each other. Everyday they live in fear of being sent back to Syria.
Amira says “It helps to know that we are not alone, as there are many others here in the same situation as us.” Today there are 60 million people fleeing war and prosecution, risking their lives in the search for safety and a better future. Many of these people are waiting in refugee camps to be called to apply for citizenship in another country. The refugee camps are bus stops for thousands of people. Not knowing when their bus will come, or if it ever will.
These 60 million people have been forced to leave their lives as they were crumbling around them. There should be a rush to help them. Instead the media and politicians are dehumanising them, alienating them from society so that we won’t feel anything when we send them back to their deaths or put them in prisons for seeking asylum. Their treatment is often justified by victim blaming.
Today we have the largest refugee crisis we have ever experienced. Not enough people are helping . Not enough countries are taking action. Germany has taken over 2 million refugees, with families taking refugee families into their home, into their schools and town halls. Their proactive reaction to the crisis is an inspiration to the rest of the 1st world. Let’s not have this crisis looked on by our grandchildren with shame, but with pride, because the world pulled together and is a better place because of it. Otherwise it will be the regret of this century.
You can find Amira’s full story at here.
Luciana Nicholson Marshall
Luci is passionate about art, sport, gender and race equality.