“My name is Nada El-Majri, I’m 16 and I go to the St.Julians school in Lisbon, Portugal. I’m originally from Libya and have moved a lot around the world due to the situation in Libya…”
What was it like growing up in Libya?
“Growing up in Libya definitely wasn’t easy. We were in the dictatorship of Gaddafi, however I wasn’t very aware of the horrifying situation because I was blessed to be able to go to an international school which made me privileged compared to other kids my age. In addition to that, I was very focused on extracurricular activities such as football and music. Of course I could see how it was on the streets and the limited freedom people but I was ignorant. Looking back I notice how secure and protected the place was, in the wrong way. There was no freedom and the dictatorship was very harsh. Growing up I began realising how horrible the situation was and the stories I’ve heard as well as experienced, they’re insane.”
Could you tell me a story that you experienced during this time?
“There’s this prison nearby our capital, Tripoli, and it is the worst of the country. So there was this one time where almost 1200 political advocates were killed in cold-blood and all of their bodies were just dumped in the streets carelessly.”
What made you become so involved?
“During the revolution in 2011 against the regime, my mom became the spokesperson for the new transitional national government alongside my aunt who was already a lawyer and a human-rights activist. Thanks to my mother and aunt, I became so much more involved and aware of the terrible events that were happening by being with them almost everyday and seeing things that a regular kid would never be able to witness and experiencing the actual atmosphere of a revolution, firsthand.”
What was the hardest part about leaving Libya?
“By the end of 2013, assassinations had become prominent. A year later, on the second day of democratic elections, my aunt was on the news encouraging Libya to vote for a brighter future. The same day, she was assassinated in her home by five masked men with AK rifles. Her husband – my uncle – was kidnapped and to this day we haven’t heard of him. The guard at their house was also killed because he was a witness of the scenario. My mother also began to get life threats and we left Libya that same year – in 2014.”
Where did you go from Libya?
“My aunt has three sons who have become like brothers to me over the years. They all lived and studied in Jordan during this gruesome time. Because they lost both their parents, my mother felt a righteous obligation to move to Jordan, help them out and be there for them as a second mother. We lived there for about two years until moving to Portugal.”
“There was a lovely lady who came to Libya during the revolution. She works at the European Parliament and as a foreign journalist she had to be protected so my mother became in charge of her. Once we realised that Europe was a safer option, my mother contacted her again. She told my mother there was a women’s conference coming up in Portugal and got her invited to it. From there, my mother applied for a permanent residency visa for myself and her and we moved there soon after.”
What's the best part about Lisbon?
“Everything. The city, my home, my school, my friends, the beach; it’s all amazing. I think the place really fits my personality and it’s a great place.”
To what extent has this experience made you who you are today?
‘It definitely made me more aware and made me who I am today. I don’t think I would be interested in the subject areas of law and politics if it weren’t for experiencing an event such as the immense Libyan revolution.”
“I love THIMUN and the MUN conferences. The topics we discuss are amazing and although I know we are just modelling the actual UN, I feel like the level of discussion and cultural awareness we spread here are almost as similar. The debates, making allies and enemies and thinking of resolutions that might pass on; I love it all. I guess on other hand there are some cases where I feel that some delegates don’t always represent the country they are supposed to in a good way because they debate what they think instead of remembering the country they are. Every country in real life already has a political standpoint which I believe we should stick to and in this sense, MUN is different from the United Nations. Of course, I struggle myself debating for the country I represent and moving away from the knowledge I have as “Nada, the girl from Libya.””
What is your opinion on the current situation in Libya?
“Libya has had autocratic power for 42 years and Nada states that I don’t believe anyone should expect a single society to easily come out of such a harsh situation. Honestly, I expected us to be in this situation we are in now because of how long we have been in a dictatorship. Even after decades, the dictatorship hadn’t built any legal system or any real transparent governance, so honestly it makes sense that we are in a civil war, which we also have been since the revolution in 2011 against the regime.”