Guest Post: THROUGH THEIR EYES by Anna Maria, age 15

INTRO BY HAYLEY SMITH: Anna Maria was in my 8th grade Arabic 1 class in Boston a few years ago. She has kept in touch with me since I moved to Arizona and started LHI. Ever a champion for the oppressed, she has become extremely passionate about refugee work. A few months ago, she sent me a snapshot of a beautiful piece of art that she had drawn. At first, I thought maybe it had been an assignment at school or something. It wasn't. It just...came to her. Check it out and the story behind it! 

THROUGH THEIR EYES, by Anna Maria, which hangs proudly in the school's Arabic classroom . 

THROUGH THEIR EYES, by Anna Maria, which hangs proudly in the school's Arabic classroom . 


My name is Anna Maria, and I’m a sophomore at one of the few schools that offers Arabic.  I recently made a drawing depicting the truth of the refugee crisis. I wanted to show the journey of the people who are forced to leave their country to escape violence and persecution, only to be faced with fear in the countries they enter. 

After watching the news repeatedly on the crisis, I was presented with the basic facts of the crisis. Syria is falling apart, people are fleeing, panic everywhere. The general idea. I thought about the people who have to make the journey, who risk everything for a hope of a future. I thought about the people who endure the hardships and bad conditions of the camps that they’re forced into.

With all of this going through my head, I took out my sketchbook and pencil, and planned everything out (see above). As soon as I came home, I took out paper and the large board that was sitting in my room and got to work. I still can’t fully describe the feelings I experienced that day. I felt that I had to make it, for everyone. For their voices to be heard. I drew the events that most people know of, Syria and Iraq being ravaged by ISIS, but I also drew individual people, witnessing their homes being destroyed. Witnessing their world being turned upside down. I drew the side of things the media misses. It isn’t just a crisis in some part of the world that Americans can just ignore. It’s a crisis that affects us all, and shows humans in the best and worst way.

Interjection by Hayley: Not only is Anna Maria a skilled artist, she also sent me this lovely poem of hers in December of 2016. Again, not an assignment. Thank you for sharing your talents and passion with us, Anna Maria! 

Lift up their hands

Lift up their hearts

We are the lights in their world, now so dark

We give them hope

We give them care

We do what countries won't even dare


The crumbling economies

The world surrounded by corruption

The world afraid for even the slightest disruption

They don't seem to know that they aren't the cause 

They don't seem to get who is really flawed


Leaders, you try and leave your homes

Go into a world that you don't know

It doesn't feel the same

When you are in the shoes of the ones you blame


The lone fighters

The givers

The accepting and the real

We do our best to help wounds heal

The refugees. They do not steal

They give a reason to have a world that's ideal

They trudge to other boarders

After crossing dangerous waters

They have lived 

They have seen

What you see only on a screen