Refugee and Beyond | From 3rd Generation Refugee to World Traveler by Missa Zahran | Inspiring Story #138 -

Refugee and Beyond | From 3rd Generation Refugee to World Traveler by Missa Zahran | Inspiring Story #138


Born a third generation refugee from Palestine, Missa faces restrictions on rights and freedoms many take for granted. This is her story of achieving what some call  “an impossible dream." Find out how she did it ...

In the Palms Hostel, the receptionist asked me to pay 250CHF for hang gliding. My immediate response was, “Are you kidding? This is ridiculous!”

He smiled at me gently, “Believe me, you will never forget what you are about to experience. You are going to set your soul for ultimate freedom.”

I headed with the team and two other participants to the top of a mountain in Interlaken. I had a high adrenalin rush but surprisingly wasn’t afraid. Paul, the instructor, looked into my eyes and said, “We will run regardless of what happens. Never stop, just keep running.” 

I closed my eyes and heard my mother whispering kindly into my ear, “Fly”. All the stories my father used to tell me about his childhood in Al Neirab Camp in Aleppo flashed before my eyes. Within a few seconds, I was flying above the clouds. The sun sent shining rays onto the earth to merge with the city beneath me into a majestically beautiful canvas. It felt like there were no borders, and all the restrictions that were made to take our rights away were falling apart. The feeling of the wind hitting my face was a reminder to be grateful for simply being alive.

"I was flying above the clouds. The sun sent shining rays onto the earth to merge with the city beneath me into a majestically beautiful canvas. It felt like there were no borders, and all the restrictions that were made to take our rights away were falling apart."

Third Generation Refugee

I am from the third generation of refugees. My father and my grandfather became refugees after the Zionist occupation of my hometown, Haifa. My father used to tell me stories about the camp. Some of his stories were funny. Many others were sad, like how they shared the little food they had, so no one slept hungry. Or how they used to study under the light of a candle in front of the single-room house that ten family members managed to fit in. I enjoyed his stories and pictured the details of his childhood. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I truly grasped the moral of these stories and what it meant to live as a refugee with a passport stating this fact.

From the age of thirteen, I dreamed of traveling the world.  Some say it’s an “impossible dream” because it’s not easy for a person with refugee documentation to travel. The law forbids you to own a car, register a house under your name, register a company, or own shares in a company. I have no doubt that I have the right to travel, own a car, a house, and have my own business registered under my name. These rights were simply taken due to many political agreements that I have never understood, and I know by heart that doors cannot be locked for long.

Refuse to Surrender

The word “impossible” isn’t in my dictionary.

Through ten years of facing rejections, I’ve danced under the aurora lights in Abisko, hiked in the Himalayas, slept on the grass in the Alps, and swam in the Maldivian beaches. I witnessed the magnificent beauty created by God in many spots in this world. 

When my travel applications are rejected, I apply again.  When I don’t hear back, I keep calling.  I will not give up.  Like when I applied with my friends to the Indian embassy.  My friends received their visas within three days. Three months after my application and many calls, I still had no answer. I called again. The employee hung up in my face. The next day, I received an email stating that my visa was accepted.

I still remember my rejected application to the Egyptian embassy. The moment I exited their doors, I exploded in tears because they made the decision without asking me a single question.  I applied again and again.  I will keep applying until I see the pyramids and walk on the banks of the Nile.

More Than a Refugee

Once you flee your country because of wars and injustice, you are labeled as a refugee, and the world starts treating you as such. Many people will tell you to give up and accept what you have. Don’t!  From a refugee who suffered a lot to get the acquired rights of any normal citizen, I am telling you out loud to never give up on your dreams. The secret is to have faith in your story in this life. When one country shuts the doors in your face, remember you still have the rest of the world.

A friend once told me, “Every time you achieve a dream you will talk and walk differently.” I didn’t get it at that time, but after many years, I understood what he meant. With every dream I achieved, I became more confident and more optimistic about the future because I am not only a refugee. I am a story of beauty, love, kindness, and curiosity.

I am a refugee and beyond.

Missa Zahran  - Hiking in the Alpes - Interlaken - 2018

About the Author - Missa Zahran

Missa Zahran is a determined Palestinian financial consultant, an explorer for this world.

 She lives in Amman (Jordan)

Click here to follow Missa on Instagram.


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Share the Inspiration
  • Evelyn Suarez says:

    Thank you Missa for your beautiful story. You’re strong never give up personality and not believing in ” impossible” inspired me so much.

  • As a blind world traveler who has ridden a faluka on the Nile, experienced the pyramids, climbed mountains in Scotland and Japan, and so many other things people said I couldn’t do, I understand your feelings and desires. I cheer you on Missa! Keep going. And yes, never give up! xxx

    • Karletta Marie says:

      Amy that’s amazing. I would love to know more about your travels.

    • Missa Zahran says:

      Thanks dear Amy for the lovely comment.. it charges my soul to never give up. I would love to have a trip together one day and hear more about your stories. I’ll be in Iceland next month inshallah so if you want to join me you are more than welcome 🙂

      Here is my instagram account: @missacorner

      All the love and peace and keep enjoying life 🙂

  • marjorie waterman says:

    Once again the world is in an uproar! I sit by my TV daily wishing I could be there helping the Ukrainian refugees. I so admire President Zelenski for his courage and perseverance. I just finished reading a book written by my friend Mindelle Pierce, titled: Love With No Tomorrow. It’s about lovers who met during the Holocaust, and now it’s happening again. I sit and wonder, when will we learn? No one wins a war. It’s time for us to learn to live together in peace. Blessings, Missa

    • Missa Zahran says:

      Love With No Tomorrow.. I want to read this book, thanks for sharing it marjorie.
      The problem marjorie that media advertises for hate and this is too bad. During my travels I saw the bridges that connect us. We are all humans who deserve to live peacefully on this earth..

  • Karletta Marie says:

    Missa, huge respect for your strength and tenacity. Looking forward to hearing more of your story (and the stories passed down to you from your father). Let’s meet in Jordon or if you do get to Egypt we will meet by the Nile. Thank you for sharing your powerful story.

    • Missa Zahran says:

      Dear Karletta,
      Sharing this story with you is one of my best moments in this year. Thanks for giving me the chance to share it with you.. somehow sharing the details and hearing back the lovely comments enlightened my soul to keep going and soon I’ve a trip to Iceland 🙂 we have to meet Karletta either in Jordan or in Egypt if I was able to make it there one day.. I know we still have a lot of things to talk about..While I am writing I am thinking that one day I will reshare the update of my story here… still many dreams to live 🙂

  • So are so brave, I have a paralyzing fear of heights, so hang gliding, skydiving or any of those things are completely out for me!

    • Missa says:

      Dear Jen,
      Thanks for sharing this with me 🙂 I understand this kind of fear.. but once you are up between the clouds everything will be different .. I remember when I arrived to the earth after hang-liding I danced and laughed a lot.. I think the precious moments in life are the ones that we are aftaid to live Jen.

      I send you all the love and peace all the way from Amman,

  • Shar says:

    So true, there are many things that we take for granted. This is a great story of a brave lady.

    • Missa says:

      Thanks dear Shar .. your message means a lot to me.
      Being brave is all about having faith in the life story regardless of all the limitations.

      Have a joyful and peaceful life Shar,

  • Fathima Shafeeq Meer says:

    Hi Missa, thank you for opening my eyes to what it means to be a refugee. We have refugees and asylum seekers from throughout Africa living in South Africa. Professors, lawyers, teachers, etc., are forced to do menial jobs because they have no documents to prove their qualifications. Beyond a few kind words, giving them my gently used clothes and some food occasionally, I’ve never given them much thought. I’m going to try and motivate those I regularly come into contact with and see how I can help them achieve their dreams. Thanks again for your inspirational message!

    • Missa says:

      Wow Fatima.. thanks for sharing part of your story with refugees here. It is a great job what you are doing with them and I believe the most important thing is to keep their souls and dreams a live! to inspire them to follow the steps toward the life they want and never give up.

      I would be happy to work closely with you to inspire them.
      Please contact me on below my instagram (@missacorner) account:

      Let’s be together part of their stories in this life.

      Have a blessed day,

    • Karletta Marie says:

      I’ve seen this in Australia too. I met a man from Afghanistan, he was a dentist but wasn’t able to use his qualifications. He was suffering from depression because he’d been through so much. It was before I started to travel and really had no idea about what other people go through. He invited us for dinner and served Zucchini with garlic and yoghurt – it was all he could afford. The flavour was so delicious I’ll never forget it. A simple dish filled with love and hospitality. I will never forget him – he ended up returning to his home – it was before social media so we lost contact. I still think about him and wish I did more to help. Stories like Missa’s help others to understand.

      • Missa Zahran says:

        Thanks for sharing this touching story Karletta.. The beauty about travelling that we meet people from all over the world and we hear stories that we never thought it exists. At the end of the day we are all connected somehow.

  • Smiley says:

    Thank you for sharing your powerful story that can inspire so many people. Never give up

    • Missa says:

      Dear Smiley,

      Thanks for your supportive message. I promise that I will not give up, I will keep moving in this life lightly.

      All the love and peace all the way from Amman to you,

  • Viano says:

    Oh wow. Who says dreams don’t come true? Good for her.

    • Missa says:

      Dear Viano,
      Thanks a lot for your lovely words 🤍 May all your dreams come true as well.

      Enjoy your story in this life.

  • Lyssa says:

    Wow! This is such an inspiring story. I love that you are always reaching for more adventures. That is an awesome attitude to have.

    • Missa says:

      Thanks Lyssa for your message. It made me smile from my heart 🙂 Yes I love nature and always looking for new adventures to experience… There is a lot of things out there to explore 😀 I am glad that you enjoyed the story.

      Keep shining in this life Lyssa,

  • Paula says:

    I love this so much. Your determination and passion for seeing the world has me wanting to travel! I love how you don’t give up. This is such a wonderful lesson for anyone who has had obstacles in their path. I do sincerely hope you get to see those pyramids one day soon.

    • Missa says:

      Dear Paula,

      I am deeply happy that you enjoyed my story and found the motivation and inspiration 🤍 still a lot to achieve in my story in this life.. Thanks for your lovely wishes.

      I wish you a life full of love, peace and joy… Enjoy your journey 🤍


  • Nishtha says:

    What a motivational story! I can’t believe that calling and applying again and again made the selection, so surprising there was no genuine reason and still her visas keep rejecting. Kudos for not giving up

    • Missa says:

      Dear Nishtha,

      Reading your comment made me gratefully smile 🤍 thank you.

      The reason of all the rejection was only due to my passport. I still remember the moment I’ve decided to enjoy the process instead of being sad and angrey.. If one door is locked there is still many other doors..

      May you achieve all your dreams Nishtha 🤍

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