Sahar Mourtaza

              Imagine getting everything you’ve ever wanted in life; getting married, buying a house, having kids, having it all. Now imagine all of that being taken away from you in a matter of days; imagine having to watch your whole life fall apart and not being able to do anything about it. That’s the story of almost every single Syrian refugee’s life right now. Some may look at them as some immigrants who can’t speak English and steal jobs. Some may look at them as a bunch of violent people, terrorists. Every person has a different story; some of them are doctors, engineers, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter anymore. Everything they have worked for in their life is gone. Now it’s about trying to start a new life, trying to adapt to their new homes, trying to build a life for their kids, and most importantly, trying to survive.

             One of the Syrian refugees that Stanton interviewed was a scientist, all he wants is to do whatever it takes to make the world a better place, “I don’t want the world to think I’m over. I’m still here.” (Stanton). This syrian refugee was top of his class, he was given a scholarship to pursue his PhD, all he cared about was his family and education. “My ultimate goal was to become a great scientist and make a lasting contribution to humanity.” (Stanton), he built a whole compound for his family, he designed it himself, paid for it himself, and oversaw the construction. The first missile tore through one of the homes and exploded in the one next to it. It was a government anti-personnel missile (they’re not supposed to be used in residential areas). The missile was filled with 116 small bombs, each bomb was filled with needles, it tore his brother and his brothers whole family to pieces. The second missile landed in his house, it didn’t explode but it destroyed the top floor. On the top floor was where his wife and daughter were. Anything that was not destroyed was stolen from his house. ‘I’m dead here. I have no life, no respect, and my children aren’t going to school. I have a PhD but I’m not allowed to work without a residence permit. There is a university here that is teaching with a book I wrote, but still won’t give me a job.” (Stanton), he has been living for Turkey for the past two years. To survive he creates designs and gives them to turkish citizens, the turkish citizen then takes the credit for it, yet he – the man who actually did the work – is only getting paid one percent of what the Turkish citizen earned for it. It only gets worse, he has stomach cancer, he’s bleeding internally, to treat it he takes pain killers. He has been given the opportunity to come to America, live in Troy, Michigan. Sadly, only a few refugees are actually given the opportunity to come to America legally and live here. Once they do come here, they are still being constantly judged by many, and being treated horribly.

             Going into this topic I had a good idea on why people from other countries would try to come to America: opportunities. When it came to the Syrian refugees, I wanted to know what the exact reason was that drives these people to do whatever it takes to get out of Syria. After some researching I found out the answer to my question: politics. The Syrian civil war began in 2011; President Assad and his loyal forces against the civilians who want justice. Since 2011, 11.5% of the Syrian population has been wounded or killed, more than 470,000 lives have been lost. 400,000 civilians died because of direct combat while the other 70,000 died because of the collapse of the country’s health-care infrastructure, lack of access to medicine, poor sanitation, the spread of communicable diseases, falling vaccination rates, food scarcity and malnutrition. It’s unfair, it’s inhumane, and it’s unreal, but it’s their lives right now, and we can make it better by raising awareness for this. We need to open the eyes of the people who are unaware about this or think negatively about them; the people who just look at them as job thieves.

             While reading the book Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War by Reese Erlich it made me realize how my own parents went through something similar. “Early in the morning of August 21, 2013, sarin gas killed hundreds of men, women, and children.” (Erlich 102), their homes are no longer their homes anymore, they have nowhere to go (safely). I decided to interview my mother for this, she left Afghanistan when she was my age (16), to come to America to leave the war going on. I asked her what it was like growing up there and then just leaving: “I remember feeling like I couldn’t leave – there was something holding me back that wasn’t just the many uncles and cousins I was leaving. I came to America with many of my siblings, my aunt, uncle, mother, and father. What was holding me back is that was my home, but I still didn’t want to stay – it was a weird feeling.”. A question I have always been thinking about was what it was like once she got here: “I was of course happy to be somewhere where my life wasn’t in danger everyday, but it sure as hell was not easy. All I cared and still care about is education, I went to Oakton high school and was bullied for almost every single day I was there. My two cousins and I would walk 4 miles to the bus stop every day there and back just so we could get an education. I got my citizenship, graduated highschool, and got into Marymount university. I got my bachelor’s degree majoring in economics and minoring in business finance. It wasn’t easy not being able to speak any english, having no friends besides my own cousins, and only being able to afford one outfit from kmart, but I realized that these people aren’t relevant, they don’t know my life story, and they do not affect my life and its decisions.”. I have a personal stake in this because whenever I think my life may not be the best, I think of those refugees, I think of my mom when she was my age and my mindset changes.

            My mom is successful now with a family, a good job, and a home, but these refugees are still suffering. There’s millions of them; children, elderly, hard workers, HUMAN BEINGS. Everyone needs to take a moment and imagine life in their shoes, that’s the solution. We can’t fix the whole problem because that’s how it is with politics but what we can do is love. Care for eachother, treat everyone equally and treat them how we would like to be treated. The solution is looking passed the fact that someone may look different from you, may not be able to speak the best english, may act differently, may have different religious views than yours. The solution is equality.



Sources cited:

Stanton, Brandon. ““I Don’t Want the World to Think I’m Over. I’m Still Here.”.” Humans of New York. N.p., 25 Dec. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Boghani, Priyanka. “A Staggering New Death Toll for Syria’s War — 470,000.” Frontline, 11 

Feb. 2016,

Erlich, Reese W. Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2014. Print