‘Being a refugee is not a choice. Our choice is to die at home or risk death trying to escape.’ – Yusra Mardini
Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian, My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph is out now from Pan Macmillan SA.
In 2015, young professional swimmer Yusra fled her native Syria to the Turkish coast and boarded a small dinghy full of refugees bound for Greece. When the overcrowded boat’s engine cut out, it began to sink. Yusra, her sister Sara and two others jumped overboard and hung on to the side to lighten the load, navigating the raging waves of the Aegean Sea for over three hours until they eventually landed on Lesbos, saving the lives of all passengers on board.
Just a year later, against incredible odds, Yusra competed with the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio Olympic Games and in April 2017, she was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
Buttefly tells her amazing story, from her life in Syria, where her passion for swimming was born, through the perilous journey she undertook to reach and cross Europe, right up to her arrival in Germany, eventual selection for the IOC Refugee Team, and first steps into the stadium at Rio’s opening ceremony.