January 29, 2017

Melissa Fleming

Harvard Book Store welcomes MELISSA FLEMING, Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for a discussion of her first book, A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, & Survival.


Emotionally riveting and eye-opening, A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is the incredible story of a young woman, an international crisis, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Melissa Fleming shares the harrowing journey of Doaa Al Zamel, a young Syrian refugee in search of a better life. Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and run-down ships to seek asylum overseas and begin a new life. After four days at sea, their boat is sunk by another boat filled with angry men shouting threats and insults. With no land in sight and surrounded by bloated, floating corpses, Doaa is adrift with a child’s inflatable water ring around her waist, while two little girls cling to her neck. Doaa must stay alive for them. She must not lose strength. She must not lose hope.

About Author(s)

Melissa Fleming is a leading communications professional, working to draw attention, drive empathy and generate support for the world’s 60 million refugees and displaced people. She is currently Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary General, on loan from UNHCR. As Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she led media teams to bring news and stories of people on the run to the public consciousness. Previously, Melissa held senior communications positions at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She started her career as a journalist. She lives with her husband and two children in Vienna, Austria and works at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. She is originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts. She travels frequently to refugee camps around the world to capture refugee stories of survival and resilience.