MAHA AL MANSOUR
Seven months before we came to New Zealand
I went with my friends to our favourite garden.
It has high trees and lots of flowers
– red, yellow, pink – and it smells like perfume.
We walked, we played, we laughed together.
The ground is gravel, with a well in the middle.
We liked to throw a stone in the well
and listen to the voice that came from the water.
I felt the garden knew that it was
the last time that I would go there.
I felt that the well, the trees, the flowers
were telling us, ‘Please don’t go.’
I felt that they were speaking to us
in their own weird language
telling us not to leave our lives behind.
Maha Al Mansour is from Syria. She came to New Zealand in October 2017. Her goal was first to learn the language properly and try to help other refugees, try to make them happy as much as she can because she can feel how sad they are to leave all their memories and the people that they love and come to a country that they know nothing about. She believes there are no limits to her passion and her dreams; she also has a goal to be the perfect doctor that her parents and family would be proud of. When she wrote this poem she was 15 years old and was a student at Mana College in Porirua. She is now at Zayed College in Auckland.
Al Mansour comments: ‘I chose to write this poem because I missed everything in my country, I missed when we used to go to the garden with my friends and just have fun as kids. It is a dream for me now to go to that garden and meet my friends again.
‘When I came to this country, I felt so lonely, I needed some memories from home to be with me. I needed to feel that these memories wouldn’t be just memories, they would be my positive motivation to continue laughing and living a happy life with my family here, because I believe that there are no limits to happiness.
‘I really can feel people’s feelings when they leave their families and friends to come and live a better life here. For my parents, they knew it would be much better for me and my siblings to come here and get educated. But for me, that garden meant everything; it literally meant happiness for me, the innocent laugh that knows nothing about bullying and killing.’