"Being a refugee is not a choice. Our choice is to die at home or risk death trying to escape." - Yusra Mardini
Yusra Mardini fled her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015 and boarded a small dinghy full of refugees bound for Greece. When the small and overcrowded boat's engine cut out, it began to sink. Yusra, her sister and two others took to the water, pushing the boat for three and a half hours in open water until they eventually landed on Lesbos, saving the lives of the passengers aboard.
Butterfly is the story of that remarkable woman, whose journey started in a war-torn suburb of Damascus and took her through Europe to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Yusra Mardini is an athlete, one of People magazine’s twenty-five women changing the world, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s thirty most influential teens of 2016.
Yusra, we could not be prouder of you for your courage and your resilience and the great example that you're setting for children everywhere.
President Barack Obama
Yusra has an incredible story: she fled the war in Syria with her sister, and was part of a group trying to reach Greece by boat. When the motor failed, Yusra, her sister and two others swam in open water for more than three hours to stop their dinghy from capsizing, saving the lives of twenty people. She is now the youngest ever UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, and you can all read her incredible story in her autobiography, Butterfly.
War, for all its atrocities, is punctuated by instances of unfathomable human spirit and grace. Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini’s story is a prime example. Butterfly recounts this Syrian refugee’s extraordinary tale of bravery, survival, and winsome, never-give-up moxie. It is impossible not to be won over by Yusra, who once swam for her life at sea and is now fighting for the dignity and wellbeing of countless refugees like her whose lives have been upturned by war.