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Melissa Fleming, is a chief spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She often travels to refugee camps and helps shed light on millions of those who are displaced from their homes, and to provide them the relief they need. The UN officer first shared this story on TED talk which got an exceptional response from the Greek people then later decided to write a book on Syrian refugees hoping that a world will open its eyes and attention towards refugees, why in the first place do Syrians become refugees and flee to neighboring countries, what are their crisis, why do we see them as terrorists rather than as individuals, why are we not taking more refugees in, what kind of challenges do they face, why can’t we treat them equally, and most importantly how can we help them?
A Hope More Powerful than the Sea is a heart wrenching, powerful, and eye opening read. The book recounts of a story of a young Syrian girl, Doaa Al Zamel who at the age of 19 left her homeland Syria to seek safety and protection in Egypt, and then ultimately reaching to Europe in hope to find a stable life. The author symbolizes Doaa with those other millions of people in Syria who are dying in civil war, with riffles and bombs, with no food and shelter, living in fear, and desperate for help. It shed lights on those refugees who are willing to take risk of everything in order to find peace, safety, and new homes to rebuild their lives.
Doaa is born and raised in a big family in Syria where 20 people live together under one roof in harmony. As she grew up, she realized the terrible regulations of the government, and decided to join the demonstration to take a stand with other protestors and protests peacefully against their dictator Assad and his government. Very soon the peaceful protests turned into a battlefield and the government crossfire the protestors with different chemical weapons and explosive gases. Doaa did not give up and fight for her country to gain democracy but the demonstrations got harsher with time and his father prohibited her to continue any more demonstrations. Doaa felt helpless seeing her country drawn in the dark with continuous fights among civilians and armies, bombings and destructions, and the gaining momentum of curfews. Her family decided to leave Syria and flee to Egypt for safety.
The Egyptian President Morsi has a welcoming policy for Syrian refugees so they take them in with a warm welcome but after the change in government Syrians are no longer welcome so Doaa’s life was again in trouble. During these times, she got engaged to a guy named Bassem and after seeing the worsening conditions in Egypt they decide to escape to Europe. Despite knowing the danger in fleeing to Europe, they still decided to pursue with this plan. When they finally set to sail with 500 other refugees in the boat, everything flipped over. The boat overturn in the water which took the life of many including her fiancé Bassem. Doaa survived for four days in the water with two babies clinging over her. She was then rescued and later moved to Sweden.
This heartbreaking tale is about one Syrian refugee who got successful in her journey fleeing to Europe. But there are thousands of other people who do not make it, they either die in the war or during the escape journey. Syria has been in a bad shape since seven years and not much has been done to overcome it. We see bombings, killings of innocent children very often on televisions but it doesn’t really affect us. But if a tale like Doaa’s is presented in a way that Fleming did, with emotions, brilliant storytelling, and strong characters, it does leave a strong impact on readers like me. We can learn a lot from her story, the courage, and the relentless fear, the hope that drive refugees to leave their homelands unwillingly to flee from wars, leaving their hearts behind and ready to face the horrors.
The Syrian refugee crisis is definitely one of the defining moments of our times, and I think history is going to judge the world quite harshly for how little we have done to help the people fleeing crisis in Syria. This book is wonderful because it gives such a close look inside the crisis and truly humanizes it through Doaa’s story. Her bravery is commendable, and I hope a lot of people give this book a read not to get inspired from it but to see and have tremendous respect for the willingness and determination of refugees to fight for a new life.

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