I am a Refugee

Fourteen year-old Nada El Majri is the niece of Salwa Bugaighis, a celebrated Libyan human rights activist and attorney who was shot dead by unknown assailants at her home in Benghazi on the day of the country’s general election. Salwa and Nada were profiled as part of The Trials of Spring, a cross-media project telling the stories of women on the frontlines of the Arab Spring. Read below for an excerpt of her powerful essay on living in exile with her family in Jordan and her memories of her aunt Salwa, and check out the full piece on Medium or in Bust Magazine.

After my aunt’s death, the whole country mourned for her. The Guardian stated that “the US ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones called the news ‘heart breaking’, and on her Twitter account denounced ‘a cowardly, despicable, shameful act against a courageous woman and true Libyan patriot.” That was nearly a year ago, a day I will never forget.

I was sent to stay with a friend’s family and then to my grandmothers when my friend’s family left Libya for good. On my way to my grandmother’s, I was taken back to go say goodbye to my auntie. My mother walked me into the funeral salon. As I approached her open coffin, despite the violence of her death, I saw her beautiful face for the last time. I want you know that my aunt Salwa was perfect, even in death, despite it all. I kissed her head and read her a verse of the Quran. The image of her face that day still awakens me and saves me from the nightmares. I can’t get it out of my mind.