Aya is a young woman who has been a refugee for most of her life. She fled from Iraq to Syria after surviving 6 years of war. In 2011, Aya and her family fled to Turkey when the war began in Syria. In Turkey, Aya began working with partners of the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency in different cities and projects. Her life took a turn when she met Brandon Stanton in 2015. He was interviewing Syrian refugees who were being admitted into the US but had not yet left the country, and Aya was his translator. After learning about her life story, Brandon initiated a petition on the website change.org to attract attention. The petition was signed by over 1 million people. In 2017, Aya and her family resettled in Switzerland, where she is now studying International Relations at Webster University and is a delegate of the Global Youth Advisory Council of the UN Refugee Agency.
“We want kids to be surrendered by books, not guns. We want more leaders in this world, not just victims. The refugee community of the future starts with this generation. We want this generation to be educated. We need this youth to build a country.”
Aya Mohammed Abdullah