#UpRooted Stories


Her future aspirations now that she is located with a reintegration group for children includes becoming a nun.

“If I can’t go to the convent, then I would like to do sewing. Here at the centre we learn alphabetisation, and basic education. We play football and basketball in our free time. I am happy with the advice I receive here. And with the food we eat too. We learn here to be polite, to respect each other and also how to protect and raise our future children."


Nakisha stands in as a guardian to her younger siblings while her mom leaves the country to find work. Four times her mother has attempted to get into the U.S .Nakisha attempted the journey to the United States once with her siblings and mother, where they were deported back to Honduras.  The journey was tough, where she witnessed and experienced a lot of hardship.

Nakisha hasn’t lost hope, she states, “I want to go one day but with the proper papers… I want to go, because of high school, college and all that.”


Recently, Algerian and Libyan authorities have been rounding up migrants and forcibly sending them home, as many refugees, once there work as beggars. This happened to Maman and other boys from Zinder who had been working as beggars in Algeria and were forcibly sent home back to Niger. Since the E.U largely stopped mass migration in Europe, people like Maman will wait for months in some cases for a chance to move on from this in-between place, or be moved back home.

Sawakat Ara

The camp Sawakat Ara now lives in, is home to a staggering 1.2 million Rohingya refugees who've fled violence in Myanmar. The Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar is highly vulnerable, where many having experienced severe trauma, and are now living in extremely difficult conditions.


Her family is from Maungdaw and has been in Kutupalong makeshift settlement for Rohingya refugees for 10 months. It took the family 7 days to reach the safety of Bangladesh. Hasina is the eldest daughter and carries a lot of responsibility.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to this district, following the outbreak of extreme violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, adding to an estimated 300,000 refugees who had arrived in previous years.


Africa’s Lake Chad Basin comprises parts of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, where violence and destruction have caused huge population displacements. Local communities are struggling to help those in need, offering shelter to many of the 2.6 million people forced to flee their homes – 1.4 million of them children.

Every year, the harvest was less and less.” Mahamat (right) made friends with Boudemi and Idriss when he

arrived in Tagal, after fleeing his island of Boulargi in Africa’s Lake Chad Basin. Mahamat (17) splits the daily earnings of 15 euros with his two friends to support himself and his four brothers and sisters.


On 21 March 2019 in Mozambique, (back row) Anna Francesco holds her daughter Tina Fransesco, Clara Fransesco, Tija Fransesco, (bottom row) Regina Francesco and Emmanuel Francesco stands in front of a temporary shelter that they built in Beira. Their house was destroyed during Cyclone Idai. This family has no parents and Anna, who is the oldest (17) takes care of her brothers and sisters.


Mary left her home in Benin City, Nigeria at the age of 17 for the opportunity to work in Italy. Like many young women and girls who are displaced by conflict and impoverished economic circumstances, she was manipulated and forced into sex trafficking by the people who promised her a normal life.


There has been no water, electricity, or gas at Aleksey's home for the past two years. The family heat their home using firewood, in temperatures as low as -20. Military positions at the end of the street regularly exchange small-arms and anti-aircraft fire. Since 2017, life in Ukraine has been dangerous and has deeply affected those who live there from the first crossfire of the conflict to the economic depravity that is still pushing those to seek refuge in the hopes of safety.


Ali, 18, attends hairdressing school two days a week in Germany, where him and his brother Ahmad (pictured below), came from Lebanon to Germany as unaccompanied minors. He and his younger brother fled their home because it became unsafe due to the presence of ISIS and Hezbollah. They are settled in now and are really happy with the opportunities their new life gives them.


Ahmad, 16, and his brother Ali ( former picture) crossed the  mediterranean in search of a safer life in Germany. The two struggle to establish themselves in a permanent basis in the country.  They are currently appealing the German government's denial for asylum. With this appeal and an acceptance of asylum their lives would take a new transition, where unknown is no more and a forward movement in their new country established.


Azhar is an 18 year-old Syrian refugee living in Greece. She shares a 3x3 meter container with her mother and four siblings in a refugee camp. “Sometimes I feel trapped,” Azhar says, “But in my books, my study, I can feel freedom. She helps teach english, mathematics and Arabic.  Not only does she treasure the education she pursued, helping others in the camp has given her hope. She states, “The sense of being needed gave me purpose and hope. It gave me me a way to forget about our situation.”


From Syria and living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp. Siba is one of 15 young people in the camp, where she joined the Humanitarian Changemaker training programme to find solutions to a problem facing her community – early marriage – and other issues facing youth in the camp.


Zein sought asylum in Germany after the rise in tensions and conflict in his home country of Iraq with his mother and two older siblings. Since starting school, he has become the family’s de facto ambassador. The family fled Basra, the southern Iraqi port city, in late 2015 and travelled through the Balkans to Vienna, Austria, to find safety and be able to provide opportunities that they would not have been available at home.


Sajad, 16, fled conflict in Basra, Iraq with his brother, his sister and his mother. He lost the use of his legs during an operation on his lower back when he was one month old in Iraq. His family arrived in Vienna in late 2015 after a harrowing trip through the Balkans. Here we see him sitting for a portrait during his archery practice.


Sinta age 19 stands by here tsunami ruined house after the December 2018 natural disaster in Indonesia.  

Ablie, Fodai & Alieu

The boys created a crew they named "Do it or die", which consists of the seven Gambian boys that met while they were waiting for a boat in Tripoli to take them to Italy. Their name describes the sacrifice they feel they made to get to Italy. “We risked our lives to come here,” said Mohammad, 17, “we crossed a sea. We knew it is not safe, so we sacrificed. We do it, or we die.”


Muzon a Goodwill Ambassador  for Unicef brought awareness to the 27 million children who are out of

School and living in conflict. She deployed 27 empty school buses which brought attention to and read:


“School zones shouldn’t be war zones”

Porco Rosso

Unaccompanied minors at Porco Rosso, a Palermo cafe that doubles as an drop in center for migrants, in Sicily, Italy. Porco Rosso, offers legal advice and hosts events such as the one pictured.

For millennia, Sicily has been a stop on the Mediterranean trade routes, and the Ballaro market has been in continuous operation for many years, with different sections selling fresh fruit and vegetables to stolen goods in the more western reaches

Natasha & Minahil

Natasha, 14, and Minahil,15, met in a residential centre for asylum-seekers in Ireland where they lived with their family members for 4, and 9 years respectively, while awaiting decisions on their applications from the Irish Government. They are best friends, forming a special bond through their shared experience of fleeing their home countries, living in limbo as asylum-seekers, being separated from family members and very recently, receiving legal status to remain in Ireland.


"Weapons were only for men. For girls, our main role was to stop & catch the bullets..."

Listen to her story

"They look for children from the community to bring them into their gang"

Listen to her story here

At 17, he had been working as a beggar in Algeria, before the government crackdown...

Listen to Maman's story

She was 18 when she spent 7 days stranded on a boat with her 2 year old son & 5 year old brother...

Listen to her story

A bride at 18, preparing for her wedding, surrounded by her friends & family

Listen to Hasina's Story

“Boulargi is not an easy place to live... Every year, the harvest was less and less.”

Listen to Mahamat's Story

They stand in front of a temporary shelter that they built in Beira. Their house was destroyed during Cyclone Idai that hit the southeast region of Africa.

Listen to Anna's Story

“There is no hope in Nigeria. I suffered a lot there, I don’t have anyone to help me."

Listen to Mary's Story

“My whole life has changed...I can’t do everything I could do before without my fingers, but I’m getting used to it. It’s still hard to do some things."

Listen to his story

He is not allowed to play matches until the German Football Association can source his sport records from Lebanon.


"It was very, very, very scary and hard because we thought we could die at any moment because we never knew how to swim."

Listen to Ali's Story

Listen to Ahmad's Story

"Ahmad fled to Germany with his older brother, Ali, when he was just 15 years old."

“We studied in the daytime and listened to bombs in the night...”

Listen to Azhar's Story

“It’s nice to leave the camp. Everyone here, men and women, is working so hard to take our community to the next level.” 

Listen to Siba's Story

 “For four months, everyday, I went to the office and said, 'I want to go to school.'”

Listen to Zein's Story

"When I came here, I saw things are easier, and people in wheelchairs can do anything."

Listen to Sajads Story


Porco Rosso, a Palermo cafe in Sicily, doubles as a drop-in centre for migrants.

Listen to life in Sicily here

“One day, I want to hear your stories about how many of my fellow refugees became engineers, doctors, lawyers and teachers..."

Listen to Muzoon's story


Listen to Natasha & Minahil's Story

“When you are a refugee, you don’t really know where home is. Home is somewhere where you are safe and you feel welcome.”


"...Every day you hear boom-boom, boom-boom.” 

Listen to their story

19 years old, stands near her house which collapsed during the Indonesian tsunami, in Pesauran Village, Banten.

Listen to Stina's Story

Millions of children are on the move. Some are driven from their homes by conflict, poverty or disaster; others are migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Far too many encounter danger, detention, deprivation and discrimination on their journeys.


It shouldn’t have to be this way. The suffering and discrimination of migrant children is unacceptable and preventable. A child is a child, no matter why she leaves home, where she comes from or where she is and how she got there. And every child deserves protection, care and all the support and services she needs to thrive. But too often that’s not the case.


UNICEF works around the world to help make sure migrant and refugee children are protected and that their rights are respected.


In collaboration with UNICEF, university students across Ireland, have put together this exhibition to provide a snapshot of the lives of 20 young people forced to flee their homes. The aim is to facilitate a wider conversation on campuses around Ireland about the rights of children and young people and the responses we have made as individuals, communities, nationally and as Europeans to refugees and migrants seeking a safer and better future.

This Exhibition was written and designed by: Selin Ozturk & Codie Drake

Codie Drake is originally from Chicago. She has a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Kentucky Westleyan College . She will be concluding her Masters degree from Trinity College Dublin in International Peace Studies in November 2019. 

Selin Ozturk is originally from Toronto, Canada. She has her bachelors degree from George Washington University in Political Science. She will be concluding her Masters degree from Trinity College Dublin in International Peace Studies in November 2019. Selin has focused her studies and work around refugees, women and children’s issues.


UNICEF Ireland wants to support you to start a global movement for change beginning in our own communities. Stay connected online with other activists like you. 


If you would like more information, getting involved or posting a blog about your activism, please email us at itsaboutus@unicef.ie

Thanks to our Supporters

Irish Aid for supporting youth activism within UNICEF Ireland.