Wed 01/06/2022 - 14:31

Maya Ghazal and her family were forced to flee the conflict in Syria. Today, she is a pilot, a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR and an inspiration for thousands across the world. We took advantage of her visit to EBACE in Geneva to ask her a few questions.  

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself.  

My name is Maya Ghazal, I am 23 years old and I am refugee from Syria. I am also a pilot, an engineer and goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. 

 

What sparked your interest in aviation? 

My interest in aviation sparked in 2018 when I was staying in a hotel by Heathrow Airport. I was looking at planes and was fascinated by them.All I could think about is how I could control them.  

I applied to study aviation engineering because I enjoyed maths and physics and I wanted to develop my knowledge further. Then, I applied to become a pilot because I was passionate about aviation.

I had so many people telling me that I would never make it in aviation because I'm a female and because I'm a refugee. That motivated me even more to become a pilot, to become an aviation engineer and to prove people wrong.  

 

EBACE (European Business aviation trade show) 2022 is a premier event in the aviation business communities here in Europe. What does it mean to you to be a part of it? 

When I first heard about EBACE it was really great to know that I would participate in such exhibition, especially to give a speech.  

It was a really big deal for me. To be part of this shows how my work towards my career in aviation and my message is actually paying off and is being recognized by big exhibitions such as EBACE.  

To be able to stand on the stage and tell my story, and tell more people about refugees and the struggle of refugees is definitely something that I was very proud to be part of, and very happy to do. Thanks to UNHCR, I am able to share my story with so many others that might not know about it. Also, it's a good way of educating people that some might have never heard of refugees or never heard of what happens in the outside world.  
 

There are many misconceptions about refugees. Your story is one that breaks down a lot of those common stereotypes. With currently over 100 million displaced people in the world, what message would you like to give to the world? 
The message that I'd like to give is to wake up and to realize what's happening, to understand that this crisis is affecting so many people and that the numbers are still increasing and are not stopping.  

What is wrong and why is this happening? How can we help each other ? And why do we sometimes forget about the similarities that we have with each other? We can help each other and lift each other up and must understand that we live in one world. When a crisis is happening somewhere, it might not directly affect you as an individual, but it will definitely affect the place that we live and it will affect us all in the future.  

So my message is a call for action : a call to do something, to find something that you're passionate about, to find something that you're good at and decide how can you help others by being you. I feel sometimes that we take for granted things such as education, water and electricity, and so many things that we do in our daily lives that so many people are missing.  

Just by raising awareness, by raising funds, by spreading the word and educating people there is a lot that happens.