Marwa & Bahja A GirlForward Story

Sometimes it was difficult to tell that there was a war happening, but I saw violence in our country. If you have a child you try to cover their eyes, but they will still hear the gunshots in the streets.

We traveled from Sudan to Egypt and stayed there for five months before we came to the US.

I had to stay behind for 20 days by myself. I was sad to be alone for the first time in my life, but I knew we would figure something out. - Marwa

We didn’t bring many things with us.

When I first got to the U.S., someone gave me a stuffed monkey that I named Conan after a character on a Japanese show I liked. One of my mom’s friends got me a stethoscope and gave it to me as soon as I got here. I take it with me everywhere I go. It reminds me of my goal of being a doctor. - Marwa
I brought one of my favorite pictures and a journal. - Bahja

When we got here, we were excited, nervous, didn’t know anyone, didn’t know English. Our mom had to google all of these words we didn’t know. GirlForward was the first time that we actually got to hang out with friends. We didn’t have friends. The other girls - it’s not because they’re refugees, but because they are just from another place, and so we can connect with what they have been through.

Anne is my mentor. What’s perfect about us is she’s the same height as me. I don’t feel like she’s my mom, she’s my friend. Anne helps me a lot because I’m a very serious person. I like doing homework with her. She helps me at any time. I remember when I went to Guatemala with my school program, and my flight was at 3 AM. She helped me get to the airport and she took care of my birds while I was gone. If she can’t come and see me, she will FaceTime me, or text or call. She tries her best to help me. - Marwa
If I was in Sudan I would have been married by 18. My best friend is my age and she has a child. I tell everyone that my life didn’t start until I arrived in the United States. - Marwa
Here I want to do something that matters, something that people remember me by. - Bahja

GirlForwarD provides girls like marwa and bahja with the opportunitieS and support they need to achieve their dreams.

Illustrations by Cori Lin Art.


UN Photo, Justin Waits (Creative Commons)

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