The streets were paved with jasmine flowers

Haya reflects on what home means to her for World Refugee Day 2022 

20.06.2022

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This World Refugee Day we’re exploring what home means to each of us. Everyone has a sense of what home means to them, whether it’s a place, an object or a person. We’re asking refugees and their friends, families and supporters to come together and share #WhatHomeMeans.  

For 20-year-old student, volunteer and Syrian refugee Haya, the jasmine flower – the national flower of Syria – reminds her of home, the place she loved but was forced to flee alongside her family. 

Haya and her family embarked on a difficult journey which took them from Syria to Lebanon and Egypt before eventually finding safety in the UK. Haya never expected that she’d leave her country forever, only for two or three months. However, a year after leaving Syria the war was still ongoing. 

Picking a photograph for the Gallery was a challenge, as Haya struggled to share what home means to her. 

“I found it hard to choose just one because everything reminds me of Syria, for example the sea, the sky, the water, and my family. Especially the Eid holiday because I know for a fact that I will never be able to experience the joy and celebrate Eid as I used to in Syria,” she said. 

Ultimately, Haya chose the jasmine flower due to its “unique significance.”  

The jasmine flower, the national flower of Syria.

“Anyone who visits Damascus will notice how this particular flower is found everywhere in the city. The smell literally makes one fall in love with the city. Most of the locals will tell you that the jasmine flower is what they love most about the place.” 

In particular, Haya remembers her walks to school as a child, where the streets were paved with jasmine flowers and the unique scent would greet her on her way. She also recalls other happy memories of sitting in her garden in Damascus with her neighbour who made her a crown made from the flower. 

This World Refugee Day, Haya reflected on the importance of standing with refugees: “When your friend has a problem, the normal thing to do is to help them, you would not ignore them because you understand how much your friend needs you. You picture yourself in their shoes and how desperate you would be for someone to lend you a hand. The same logic applies to refugees. We must help the millions of refugees fleeing war, so they’re not stranded with nobody by their side. It is such a horrible thought, even forgetting one person is a disaster to humanity.” 

This Refugee Week and always, please do everything you can to stand with and support refugees.  

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We’d love for you to share what home means to you. Please submit your image and story via our website here.  

To read more about Haya, please visit our website 

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