‘Lost’ by Madisyn Edwards, Age 13, Year 9, Thomas Clarkson Academy

I was living a peaceful and enjoyable life in my own country with my family until violence and conflict arrived. We had no choice but to go, leaving behind everything and everyone we knew and loved. I was just six years old at the time, but I remember the horror in my heart as we raced for our lives.

We travelled for days with only the clothing on our backs and the few valuables that we could carry. We had no idea where we were heading or what would happen once, we there. All we had to do was keep going, keep running away from the chaos and anarchy that encircled us.

We encountered numerous problems along the way. Hunger, tiredness, illness, and despair were ever-present in my life. We often had to hide in the darkness of the night, afraid of being discovered and sent back home. We had to hunt for food and drink wherever we could find it and sleep on the cold, damp ground. My mental health was at an all-time low. The magnitude of the anguish I had to suffer completely overwhelmed me.

After weeks of trekking, we arrived at a small refugee camp. It was a secure haven for us, a place where we could finally relax and recuperate. The other refugees greeted us kindly and gave us clothes and food. I’ll never forget the sense of relief and appreciation I had at the time. After all these years, I finally felt at home.

Even though we were in a better situation now, our trip was far from complete. We were still homeless and unsure about our future. Despite the pain and struggle, I was determined to make the best of our new existence and continue.

I consider myself quite fortunate to be alive and to have made it to safety. I’ve been through a lot, but I’m determined to keep going, to keep living, and to keep dreaming for a brighter future. I’ll never forget our trek to get here. It was a terrible one, but it was necessary, and I’m grateful that we survived.