Discovering Lamiya

A little over a year ago, I discovered a poem online, written by a 9 year-old refugee. The poem was published by Betty Blair from Azerbaijani International, after traveling to Baku in the 90s and meeting young Lamiya and her family. They were refugees living in a cardboard shack down by the river.


Don’t Call Me Refugee
by Lamiya Safarova, 9
My life, my destiny
Has been so painful, so don’t call me refugee.
My heart aches, my eyes cry,
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.
It feels like I don’t even exist in the world,
As if I’m a migrant bird far away from my land
Turning back to look at my village.
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.
Oh, the things I’ve seen during these painful years,
The most beautiful days I’ve seen in my land,
I’ve dreamed only about our house.
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.
The reason why I write these sad things
Is that living a meaningless life is like hell.
What I really want to say is:
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.
© Azerbajani International All Rights Reserved

Finding Lamiya

After researching the publisher, I contacted Betty to tell her about the Child Refugee Awareness Choral Consortium and my desire to give Lamiya 50% of my commission. Betty was very eager to find Lamiya, who was still living in Baku, Azerbaijan.  After an extensive search, involving Betty’s contact in Paris and then Sevinj in Baku, we finally found her!

Our First Payment to Lamiya

In May, Betty traveled to Baku and met with Lamiya for this first time since the day she discovered Lamiya and her family living as refugees by the river. Betty says our first payment to Lamiya will cover 2 months rent for her and her family.


14 Choirs from 4 Countries, Spanning 3 Continents – and Growing!

The Child Refugee Awareness Choral Consortium currently includes 14 choirs from four countries spanning three continents. The Consortium also includes four sponsors who provide funding for choirs who are unable to fund their participation (there are currently three open spots for sponsored choirs).

Writing Has Begun

With fourteen choirs and board, and hundreds of singers ready to sing, I have begun writing both “My Name is Lamiya: Don’t Call Me ‘Refugee’” and “Lamiya’s Song”. Each song is based on Lamiya’s poem, “Don’t Call Me ‘Refugee’”. “My Name is Lamiya: Don’t Call Me ‘Refugee’” is tailored to advanced high school, college, and community choirs. It is rhythmic, with a determination to be heard. In the middle section, the choir sings the names of refugees, both famous and from contemporary literature. This section can be tailored, if desired, to each specific choir in the consortium, with the names of refugee they’d like to honor in the song.

“Lamiya’s Song” is written for all choirs, both melodic and harmonically accessible. Currently written for SSAA and will be arranged for SSA, 3-part mixed, SAB, SATB, and 2-part voices. It is a girl’s plea to live a meaningful life – to be more in people’s eyes than “refugee”.


Join Us!

In order to reach as many people with Lamiya’s message, I’ve extended the sign up period though the month of July. Please fill out the contact form below to express interest. For more information, visit

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