In the spring of 2014, Rima Ahmadi’s parents were forced to come to the same decision that hundreds of thousands of other families had come to; they had to flee their war-torn home country of Syria and embark on the deadly journey towards Europe. They packed their essentials and set off towards what they hoped would be their salvation. They managed to get into Turkey and spent three weeks walking across the country to reach the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. There, Rima’s father gave a group of traffickers the majority of his family’s savings to secure them a passage across to Greece.
A week later, the Ahmadi’s found themselves on an unstable inflatable dinghy along with seven other families, some with children as young as two years old. Everyone had been provided with a lifejacket, but it was a small comfort when faced with a never ending view of just ocean.
Rima remembers when she first saw Greek land; she had been at sea for three days and was beginning to feel the effects of dehydration as there hadn’t been enough water for everyone. The children had finally begun to stop crying from exhaustion, and the parents were beginning to lose the hope they had clung to since they began their journeys from Syria.
She also remembers feeling the effects of the violent current that would capsize their dinghy mile and a half from shore.
Rima awoke in a white tent surrounded by others being fed warm soup and given water. She had been lucky enough to be in a boat that had been spotted by rescuers. Unfortunately, those rescuers hadn’t been early enough to save everybody. She still doesn’t exactly know the fate of her parents. All she knew is that she was now in Skagos alone and unsure of her future.
As a minor, Rima was able to receive help from Future Lives, which provided her with enough resources and help to continue her journey and apply for asylum, which was accepted and she is now living with relatives in the UK.
Rima wanted to give back to the charity that helped her, and became an ambassador for Future Lives so she would stop children from having to go through the same experiences that she had. She travels around Europe to raise awareness and to personally help the vulnerable children arriving alone.
Rima was recently recognised by prestigious magazine Time for her selfless acts and her desire to help other people, not just better her own situation. She has had an article written about her, and her issue was released in December of 2016 to raise awareness of how difficult wintertime is for refugees who have no warm home to go to; most are travelling or are in designated and underfunded camps, where they get one hot meal a day but have dire accommodation that doesn’t lack the warmth that they need, which can lead to a multitude of health issues.