Meet Layla a beautiful seventeen-year-old from Syria. Hers is the story of heartbreak. She had been living in Greece with her three brothers ages 20, 14, and 12 for just over a year when we met her. She has two older brothers one who fled Syria in attempts to get safe passage for his siblings and mom, he was safe in Germany. The other brother remains in Syria.
As we spent time with her she showed us a picture of her mother. The picture was taken just two days before she was killed in a car bomb. She showed a picture of what remained after the bombing and told us her story.
Immediately after her mother was killed, she along with her brothers fled Syria on foot. They walked to Turkey when she was just sixteen years old. During their journey from Turkey to Greece their raft started to take on water, miraculously they were rescued. Layla has now taken on the role of mother to her two younger brothers and cares for them as well as her older brother in Greece.
As we spent time with her over the coming days she shared her hurt and loneliness with my friends. She shared with my friends that she hadn’t felt the hug of a mother since hers died. My friends quickly took her in their arms and embraced her. They let her cry and loved her in her spot of loneliness and heartache.
For just a moment Layla felt whole again. She clung to the hands of my friends knowing she was loved by them. Knowing they cared for her. Knowing that she hadn’t been forgotten. We can’t forget Layla and all of the other young girls like her who have taken on the role of mom for their younger siblings.
These girls and Layla are more than numbers, they are sisters, daughters, and friends. They long to feel cherished and live in a world where their dreams can become a reality.