Learn to Live: London schoolgirls praise Syrian refugee for ‘achieving so much’

Lizzie Edmonds
Friday 28 September 2018 12:58 BST
Learn to Live campaign connects refugee teenager with Hornsey Girls school in London

The five London schoolgirls who chatted with Haya on Friday, as part of The Independent's Learn to Live campaign with War Child, said they found the Syrian school girl “inspirational” and the conversation made them feel “lucky for the opportunities” they have handed to them.

Teenagers Liberty Bairstow, Noha Moulana, Harriet Webster, Lola Langham, Honey Hargreaves and Naila Amegashitsi gathered around a classroom computer screen at Hornsey School for Girls in north London on Wednesday in order to spend 20 minutes of their lunchbreak chatting to Haya.

After asking questions such as: “What is it like where you live?” “What do you do after school?” and “What are your ambitions?” the call was ended with promises of exchanging letters and photographs that detail their everyday lives.

The girls, all 13, chatted excitedly when the call was ended, with most saying they “really enjoyed” the experience and “admired” the schoolgirl – who will address the UN today.

Harriet, who wants to work in politics, said after the call: “I really enjoyed talking with her. But I was, not shocked, but I was surprised to find out how similar she was to everyone that I know. I think we are very much the same, but we haven’t had the same life. I really enjoyed meeting her and it seems like she’s not very different to any of us.”

Liberty, who wants to work in psychology, added: “From what she said, it doesn’t sound like she is going to be leaving where she is very soon. I think I wake up and I walk five minutes to school every day, I have a free education. She has been through so much but she still manages to do that – the same thing I do, slightly reluctantly, every day.”

Vanessa Kirby backs the Independent's 'Learn to Live' campaign

When asked about whether she thought about Haya's achievement of speaking at the UN, Naila – who would like to be a pathologist - said: “I admire her for what she had done at this age. I feel like we get so many opportunities and none of us have done as much as she has. I realise we have a lot to be grateful for.”

Lola, who wants to study law, added: “To do that at our age, it is really inspirational that she can achieve so much. It makes me feel like I need to do more. She is so normal as well. It is like talking to someone you have been friends with for a long time.”

About The Independent's Learn to Live campaign, Lola said: “This just opened all eyes up so much to what it is like over there. We knew about it but we didn’t know how it felt to wake up living somewhere like that. It has been really good to get to know about her situation.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in