“Different is not dangerous. We need your compassion as much as we need your shelter.”

Nujeen Mustafa – TEDx Exeter 2017

Nujeen Mustafa

I Am Not a Number: A Refugee’s Tale

Millions of refugees have fled conflict and persecution around the world. Nujeen Mustafa asks us not to see them as numbers, but human beings. In a moving and humorous talk, she tells of her own epic and dangerous journey from Syria to Europe in a wheelchair, concluding that refugees need compassion as much as shelter.

Nujeen Mustafa has cerebral palsy and cannot walk. This did not stop her braving inconceivable odds to travel in her wheelchair from Syria in search of a new life. Sharing her story, Nujeen recounts the details of her childhood and disability, as well as her harrowing journey across the Mediterranean to Greece, and finally to Germany to seek an education, and the medical treatment she needs.

Trapped in a fifth floor apartment in Aleppo and unable to go to school, she taught herself to speak English by watching US television. As civil war broke out around them, Nujeen and her family fled first to her native Kobane, then Turkey before they joined thousands of displaced persons in a journey to Europe and asylum. She wanted to come to Europe, she said, to become an astronaut, to meet the Queen and to learn how to walk.

In her strong, positive voice, Nujeen tells the story of what it is really like to be a refugee, to have grown up in a dictatorship only for your life to be blighted by war; to have left a beloved homeland to become dependent on others. It is the story of our times told through the incredible bravery of one remarkable girl determined to keep smiling.

Nujeen’s story has already touched millions and in this book written with Christina Lamb, she helps to put a human face on an ongoing global emergency.

Nujeen Mustafa is living in Cologne with her brother and sister.

Biography published 2017

Watch our other 2017 speakers