For what seems like a decade now, I’d wake up to see my newsfeed swarmed with updates on the refugee crisis; their struggle, their sacrifices, their blood lost. While Aylan Kurdi’s death echoed across the world, thousands of stories went unnoticed. Regardless of the prayers sent their way I started believing that hope was lost for these struggling people. That is, until this very morning when Yusra Mardini’s story surfaced.
18-year-old Yusra saw her dreams of becoming a professional swimmer shatter before her very eyes when her home town became a war zone. Almost a year ago she was neck deep in water swimming for her life across the Mediterranean Sea hoping to make it to the shore alive. Yusra along with her sister Sarah bid farewell to their family last august and commenced a death dodging journey towards Germany. The sisters were packed on a dinghy along with 19 other people and sailed in to the sea. However, it was only designed to carry six people at a time and within half an hour the motor began to give up. It was at this moment that Yusra and Sarah put their training to test and got off the boat to push it for three and a half hours to safety.
After reaching a refugee camp in Germany, she joined a swimming club in the city where she impressed coach Sven Spannerkrebs who trained her to participate in the Olympics 2020 as a member of the refugee team. To her amazement, Yusra got a the chance to compete this year. She recalls the moment saying “It’s a dream come true”. About the Olympics, she says “It’s the most important thing in my life. It’s in my heart. I want to achieve something in it”.
Yusra’s story is many things, an inspiration for the world to pursue their dreams regardless of the circumstances, a push to females worldwide to take control of their lives but most importantly it is a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide. While we may not be able to empathise with them, Yusra wants to break the typical stereotype, she says “A lot of people believe refugees had no home, they had nothing at all. No, we had everything just like you”.
Her entire family will be there to support her, Yusra is a beacon of hope for us all, pushing us to chase our dreams. We congratulate her on making the team and wish her all the best for the Olympics!