Writer: Swasti Jain is a sophomore in High school and an avid member of her Model United Nations Club.
Trying not to hold back her emotions Leilah, a syrian refugee in search of a more hopeful future during her stay in Athens, Greece has brought the only memento from her past - a photo album. Having to leave behind her husband, six children, and the comforts of home, as well as her residence in the tempestuous country of Greece with no validation of documents offers Leilah no assurance of safety and more importantly no preservation of her dignity. One of the few thousands who made their way to Greece safely, she resides in a decrepit apartment in Athens with her children, two of whom are in search of work, while their father is seemingly forsaken from this incomplete yet resolute family. You might feel Leilah is relieved of the perils lurking in her homeland engulfed with trails of tears, and turbulent childhoods,but the dangers still remain ; being considered an irregular entrant, and ultimately deportation.
Although this outcome is not the case for 40 - year old Leilah, for a period of 33 days her sons were detained under substandard living conditions; they had to adhere to the head of UNHCR's office in Greece, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos’ s, declaration in tune with the continuing tumult in Syria stating "Administration detention for the purpose of removal ordered in cases of irregular entry and stay in a systematic manner, irrespective of the fact that returns are impossible to implement.” Despite her son's’ release, the entities of social welfare, and legal documentation will diminish their chances of even a decent lifestyle in the country,
Leilah and her sons are victims to the prolonging ordeal of many other Syrians due to their arrest for lacking documentation in a country already submerged with blurring social boundaries. However,in accord to new developments made by the UNHCR as a result of personal requests from fearful Syrians, Leilah and her (now freed) sons are subject to a new policy of being granted access to the country once their national identity is identified. Currently dwelling in a more adequately accommodated housing area, Leilah reminisces once again of the uncertain fate her husband and other relatives are subject to ,while remaining hopeful for peace in Syria to regain her vitality as a dignified and respected citizen. Millions of other fellow refugees have no means of survival as they also are in dire need of assistance from non-governmental organizations, and are similarly seeking for a forthcoming change and redemption from the shackles of impoverished living conditions.
This undeniable suffering of countless refugees such as Leilah will serve as an indelible reminder for you to ponder over having the temerity to understand how it feels to be born other than the way you are, to be living a life of rags instead of riches, and to be stripped of your dignity in a time where it is needed most.