Have you ever imagined what it means to be a refugee?

Have you ever imagined what it means to be a refugee?

“Puplic speaking competetion”.

I want everyone in this room to close their eyes and imagine with me what I say, you’re in your house, sleeping because it’s late at night and you have school or work to head to tomorrow, you think you’re in the safest place you can be, because you thought no one can touch you if your dad was home, or if your mom locked the doors tightly, you wake up to the sound of bombs and weapons, you don’t know which sound is which, but it doesn’t really matter because you’re running now, as far away as you can, you look back every 10 seconds to check if your family is still alive.

Open your eyes and look at me, would you have guessed that this is my story? Can you guess who I am now? I am the person that was sleeping in their house one day and I just woke up in the middle of nowhere the next day, I remember that I cried when we crossed the boarders, I knew that I was not an 11 years old child anymore because you are not a child once you leave your home and family, we mature before adults do, leaving our toys behind and at that moment I’m one of the millions of displaced people out there, I’m just one of the problems of this world, there are 31 million children refugee and I am number 31 million and one, isn’t this how the world really views us?

We’re the tragedies on the news, we’re the cause of traffic, we ruin the economy, we are a threat to the safety of the country we end up in, that’s what people say on the tv, while all we really are is a family looking for safety, a student that can’t get an education because he has no identity card, a person who is trying to prove their humanity as we also deal with our memories I miss our two floor bed and my library, I miss my grandmother and the smell of her coffee in the morning my father and his 6 brothers all immigrated, leaving her all alone, I miss my cousins I once thought they were my best friends for life, one of them passed not so long ago in an another country, I wish I had the chance to fly to her and say goodbye, but that was not a chance cause I don’t have a passport, I sometimes sit and wonder, and often does a picture come to my mind, an alternative version of me, one that is not a refugee, a normal teenage girl that experienced life at its normal rates, I so often wish I had a boring life with a family that is held together, but today I am a 17 year old teenager and I never really feel like one, cause even though I left war it never leaves me

Everyday this last week I heard a comment about my ethnicity, from a friend or a stranger, one of the times I had invited my friend to a Syrian restaurant and he said he didn’t want to go because he doesn’t want something that disgusting in his system, I remember a guy that walked up to me and my friends and told us we should’ve stayed and died in our country, on another time a friend told me that his neighborhood is filled with Syrians that he can run over one with his car, I went home that day and I cried, cause I don’t need pity or help, I just need understanding and acceptance for something as little as my existence, and it'I try to fit in, I try to belong, but everything just takes so long, my therapist tells me to avoid my thoughts, to read a book and to take medications, she still cries with me in every session it’s beyond her to repair me, cause she doesn’t really realize that I am Alan, the boy that’s body was found on the beach in Greece, and I am the young Mexican girl that was locked in a cage in texas, and I’m Hamza the kid that was shot while praying in the mosque in new Zealand, my grandma once told me that when children die, they go to heaven, do you think they go there as refugees as well?


By: Sham Safar, winner of the English Speech Competition after winning 18 of her peers representing 18 schools in Istanbul.

Opinion articles which are published in the Syrian Youth Assembly do not express the viewpoint of this foundation. They only express the viewpoints of the writers.

Sham Safar

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