Earlier we told you how Humans of New York changed the life of a New Yorker named Kibonen and now its time for us to join HONY in its mission to bring Iraqi refugee Aya, home!

Like the Aylan, the little boy in red and blue who drowned in the sea and washed up on the beach of Greece, Aya too is a refugee. Now, I know you might have gotten an idea about what the story is about but please have patience and keep going. It’s for Aya and all of humankind. Please read till the end to know how you can help.

How it all began

Aya has travelled a lot but for painful reasons. Originally from Baghdad, Iraq, she travelled as a child to Jordan for treatment. At 7 when she moved back to Baghdad, she witnessed war.

Iraqi refugee Aya

My mother told us, ‘It will be very loud, but nothing bad will happen to us. We will all be here together. In the cartoon shows, the good always wins, so I thought that we were good and nothing would happen to us.

Iraqi refugee Aya

I thought that if I was really clever in school and got all the best marks, I would become a leader and I could stop the war. I could just tell everyone to love each other and they would listen to me. But one day I was driving with my father and a car bomb exploded ahead of us. I got out of the car because I thought that maybe I could save the people but there were hands and heads in the street.

Iraqi refugee Aya

How Aya grew up

I try not to cry because I want to be strong for my mother. It was hardest for her because she had children. During the war she had to worry about herself, but she also had to worry about us. It made her very ill. Her blood pressure is very high now. Her hand shakes. She has bladder problems. But she is my hero because she always protected us.

Iraqi refugee Aya

My father was working as a library security guard during this time. The militia went to the library and murdered my father’s coworker—thinking it was him. My father became very scared when he heard this. He told us we had to pack all our clothes into bags and leave Iraq immediately. My father pulled me away and told me that we were going to live in a better place. That night we drove to Syria.


My teachers kept telling me that I had a very bright future. They told me, “One day Aya, you will be the voice of refugees.” On the weekend I was volunteering to help other refugees. I organised an entire chorus of refugees. Things were going so well. My father was working as a driver. We were very comfortable. Then war came to Syria. We put everything we had into six bags, and we left.