Her Story: The Tragedy of Her Lost Story

I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw her. Between photos of stylised homes and pouting selfies, she lay there in the ocean and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. There was nothing I could do to stop the closing of her book, the ticking down of her time, the coming of her end too soon.

But she made it so far, I kept saying. She made it so far.

She left her home, her bed and kitchen. She left her community – family and friends left behind perhaps. She travelled over land for who knows how long, through who knows what trials. And she made it to the shore.

She made it so far.

She found the boat on the shore, she managed to pay who knows how much, to secure her place – and that of whoever was in her care – onboard. She managed to leave the shore without being seen, without being shot at, without being wrecked.

She made it so far.

She made it across the waves and through the storms. She survived the beating sun and relentless weather. She survived on whatever food she’d brought with her – for who knows how long she survived on those supplies.

She made it so far.

She made it so far.

How then did it end like this? How did it end with her laying on driftwood, lifeless when rescue finally came? How can it be that her dreams and her passions and her story can die, somewhere out in the middle of the ocean?

How can it be that she made it so far? And yet she’s now lost to us forever?

And yet.

She made it across the oceans, barriers and security guards. She made it across nations and cultures and religions. She made it into my heart and into my tears. She made it this far – so far.


Postscript. Here’s my honest confession: I’m often tempted to unfollow @howing.eagle. Their photos break me – and sometimes I just don’t want to be broken. I’m so glad I didn’t though, I’m really glad I kept following these Australian filmmakers working to support refugees. Because now that I’ve seen her, I’ll not forget her. Now that I’ve seen her, I can’t forget.

*Warning: the photo below may be distressing to you. Feel free to decide whether or not you can process looking at the photo today, there’s no pressure either way. x


The Refugee Project looks at the world through the eyes of those whose choices have been taken from them by war, famine and terror. Each person draws us closer to an understanding that each of us are part of this story – this national story of receiving and caring for those who have travelled so far, in the hope of landing in safety. That we can each make a small step towards friendship, by saying hello, learning a person’s name and taking the time to stop for a conversation – this is the goal. Because that’s where the battle on the ground can be won – with simple friendship. Sign up below for updates on this project or read more here.

*Feature image (with flowers) by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash.

@wordsbyjoni is also on facebook (@wordsbyjoni), instagram (@wordsbyjoni) and twitter (@joni_leimgruber) – I’d love to get to know you, so please click on over and say hi! Also, you can sign up for email updates below!

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