By Ekhlas Ahmed

On days like today, you have awakened my senses, brightened my vision and expanded my lungs so I can breathe deeper.

Silencing all the
emotions and opening empty pages of books for reflections.

I remember when I first met you and how desperately I was looking for an exit door to escape you.

But you somehow, everyday, every sea of ocean and every
passing bird made me become closer.

Even when I leave you
for a moment,

My heart beats so fast, rushing like strong waves of water waiting to reach land.

I learned how to
be patient because of you

I learned how to have hope even in hopeless moments and how to be soft even in my toughest of journeys.

I have never been alone and you have always been home.

Even behind closed doors
you were still near,

Listening to every
laugh, prayer, and collecting every drop of tear.

And through all of
it, you have always been sincere.

Ekhlas Ahmed was forced to flee the outbreak of civil war in Sudan with her mother, father, and three younger brothers in 2005. Her family was resettled to Portland, Maine, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and a masters degree in education from the University of Southern Maine, with hopes of helping resettle other refugees. She is the vice president and co-founder of Chance to Advance, a nonprofit organization raising awareness in her community of the violence and needs in Darfur.