Meet Doaa

Doaa’s story is one of incredible bravery and survival. At just 19 years old, she rescued another person’s child while stranded at sea, clinging to a raft for four days.

Photo © AFP/Makis Kartsonakis

Struggling to make ends meet and fearing for her life, Doaa was forced to seek refuge in Egypt after her father’s business in Syria was bombed. As the conflict in Syria raged on, the community where Doaa once sought refuge was tiring of the ongoing crisis, and were no longer as welcoming as they once were. As tensions rose Doaa and her fiancé, Bassem, were forced to risk their lives and flee to Europe in search of safety.

“The sea went black. I heard people screaming, and water crashing. I felt like I was going to drown,” Doaa said.

They were smuggled in a crammed boat that capsized just four days into the journey. Bassem found a small life ring for Doaa to cling to as he held her hand. Unable to swim, Doaa could only watch as people became increasingly exhausted. When Bassem could no longer go on, he asked Doaa for forgiveness before sinking beneath the water’s surface. Over the next few days, two other people approached Doaa separately in desperation and asked if she could take care of their babies once they were gone.

Doaa now found herself in charge of two fading lives. She gathered the strength to amuse the children with songs as she desperately awaited rescue. On their fourth day, she caught the attention of a merchant vessel that took her and the two children to the Greek island of Crete for medical care. One of the children, Masa, miraculously survived, but nine-month-old Malek died.

Doaa’s story made media headlines in Greece, and she was recognized by the prestigious Academy of Athens for her bravery. She now wants to fight injustice as a lawyer or politician, and she hopes to reunite with her family in Sweden.

Doaa is just one of millions of people who have made similar perilous journeys, and one of 130m people living in crisis around the world. We must rally together and commit to addressing today's greatest challenges, from helping people fleeing conflict, to rebuilding communities in disaster-hit areas.

Ask world leaders to commit to bold action now.

Doaa's story is courtesy of UNHCR 'Tracks' (Melissa Fleming). Full details in the credits.