Meryl Streep helps put young Syrian poet on the world stage

By Coco McCabe

The Oscar winner will read the words of Reema, a Syrian refugee, at the fifth annual Women in the World Summit.

She is “the girl whose face you’ll never see.”  But on Thursday night, Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep will help put that girl—a young Syrian poet named Reema—on the global stage.

Streep will read from some of the works of Reema, who writes with longing and deep love for Syria, the country she and her family fled after a bomb destroyed their house in a savage conflict that is now dragging into its fourth year. Oxfam’s Jane Beesley first met Reema during a visit to Lebanon in 2013 and helped her share her poems with a global audience.  

Streep’s reading is part of the fifth annual Women in the World Summit, a three-day global conference hosted by journalist Tina Brown. Featuring CEOs, world leaders, and celebrities, the conference brings to life the stories of women who are taking on the status quo in their home countries, pushing for peace in the face of war, and breaking through the barriers that hold women back in the business world.

On opening night at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City, Streep will share with the audience some of the horror and sadness Reema has endured since the fighting broke out. As refugees in Lebanon—among more than one million there--she and her family have been living on the first floor of a house with no windows. Reema’s family is among those Oxfam has helped with cash distributions to cover housing costs and other essentials.

Reema is not her real name. She is afraid to reveal her true identity, but she speaks for every child wrenched from the security of home and confronted with unbearable destruction.  In one of her poems she writes:

I have dreams that I can’t achieve and make come true

And all I want is living with you in freedom

Syria, my country, I love you.

You can watch the Women in the World Summit, including Streep’s reading, live on the Daily Beast starting Thursday, April 3, at 6:30 p.m.