From twice a refugee to a Peace Ambassador: Zoya Miari’s Story
By Zoya Miari
I am a Palestinian-Ukrainian Peace Ambassador who always dreamt of becoming a messenger of peace and hope since my childhood was filled with violence and conflict, experienced once more with the war in Ukraine.
By the age of 22, I had escaped two wars and become a refugee for the second time. I was raised in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, surrounded by a community experiencing abuse, violence, and ongoing conflicts.
During my childhood, I heard gunfire, bombings, and shootings that claimed innocent lives. As a child, I always felt ashamed of living in a single room with my family for the first 15 years of my life and hesitated to share details of my life in the refugee camp with my school friends due to the negative stereotypes associated with living in a refugee camp.
Later, I moved with my family to Ukraine to find a fresh start, only to have our lives disrupted once more by the Russo-Ukrainian war. While facing the turmoil of war for the second time in my life, I knew if I survived, I would emerge as a warrior in life, not a victim.
Transforming trauma into impact through storytelling
I began sharing my story to shed light on the reality faced by millions of refugees and emphasise that they are actual human beings, not merely numbers or statistics. I found that storytelling has a healing power on a person’s well-being.
I thought about how we are often afraid to share our true emotions, hiding behind our achievements when asked about who we truly are. Little do we realise that sharing our vulnerabilities brings humans together and heals us collectively.
Since then, my mission has been to inspire others to open up about their vulnerabilities and pain, and rewrite their stories in an empowering way. This led me to establish Waves To Home, a global storytelling movement with 10 other young leaders from nine different countries, most of whom I met during the One Young World Summit in 2022.
Waves to Home is a platform for everyone who has been forced to leave their homes behind. This platform provides a safe space for refugees, migrants, and displaced people to share their stories and find inner strength to inspire the world with their resilience.
Wave to Home: Platforming stories from and by the people facing displacement
In the community where I was raised, people weren’t taught ways to express themselves, and as a result, their expression of pain often manifested in violence.
Wave to Home’s first storyteller, Mounir, shares his journey of forced displacement from Syria. Upon arriving at his new haven, Lebanon, he realised the internal battle he had yet to fight. Despite his traumas, Mounir found hope in his story and recognised how fully alive he still is.
Together with storytellers like Mounir, we will no longer hide behind our realities. We will not allow the pain we carry to limit us but instead, transform it into a peaceful weapon to change our lives and those around us.
I envision a world where people are taught healthier ways to express their inner pain—a world that is undoubtedly happier. That is what Waves to Home will do: changing the world, one story at a time.