Vol. 2 - Voice for Refuge - Green Card Voices

Zaynab Abdi, emerging global leader, chronicles her journey, from Somalia to Yemen and Egypt, and ultimately the United States. Her graphic memoir is told and illustrated in both English and Arabic. 

Zaynab was born in Somalia and raised by her grandmother in Yemen, where they experienced a simple but beautiful life before unrest came to the country. Follow Zaynab as she flees to Egypt with her sister. Feel the love she is greeted with in America when she joins her mother and two sisters she has never met. Watch her grow as an advocate as she takes on the leadership opportunities within high school and university.  Upon meeting Malala Yousafzai, and speaking at the United Nations, she becomes a voice for refuge.

“In America I found MY REFUGE, and my education. Now I use MY VOICE and speak out in order to promote more justice in the world.”  – Zaynab Abdi 

The stunning black ink drawings come from the pen of Egyptian born artist Ashraf El-Attar.  Voice for Refuge will be a powerful addition to classrooms and school libraries, expanding collections to include the voice of Black, Muslim, Middle Eastern immigrant girls and women.

Book Contents

  • 64 pages in black and white
  • Discussion questions
  • Important concepts about Zaynab’s story
  • Words to know from the story
  • Written in English and Arabic
  • Reading comprehension for ages 8+

About the Contributors of Voice for Refuge

Zaynab Abdi

Storyteller of Voice for Refuge

From: Yemen
Current: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Zaynab Abdi is a Black, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Immigrant woman who is passionate about social justice and advocacy. She graduated magna cum laude from St. Catherine University with triple majors in political science, international studies, and philosophy. She started attending Columbia University in the Fall of 2021. Zaynab works alongside the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, as a youth advocate for girls’ education. She has spoken at the United Nations several times, and her story was featured in Malala’s book We Are Displaced. Zaynab was appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s office to serve in the 2019 Young Women’s Cabinet. In her free time, Zaynab enjoys playing soccer, biking, and mentoring young leaders to be civically engaged.

Achraf El-Attar

Cover artist and illustrator of Voice for Refuge

Born: Egypt
Current: Washington, D.C.

Achraf El-Attar is an illustrator from Egypt. He currently resides in Washington, DC. He earned his MFA in Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design with a full scholarship from the Ford Foundation. His children’s books and graphic novels have been published in the United States and around the world. His work has also appeared in several magazines such as Baystate Parent and Washingtonian. His preferred medium is traditional ink and paper.

About the Children’s Bilingual Graphic Novel Series, Our Stories Carried Us Here

Following the breakout success of the graphic novel anthology, Our Stories Carried Us Here, Green Card Voices presents the children’s graphic novel series of the same name. In this series, we explore the same challenging questions of identity, race, and discrimination, but written for an audience in grades 3-5. As our student population becomes increasingly BIPOC (52% of US school population in 2020), teachers and parents are searching for books that are reflective of who their students and children are, and which help them feel more at home in America. Through authentic narratives from immigrant storytellers and engaging full color visuals, developing and fluent readers access and explore a variety of distinctly American experiences. Each book features a single story presented in both English and the native language of the storyteller. Moreover, supporting pages provide background building content, thought provoking discussion questions, and a well curated list of additional resources for extension opportunities. 


Reading Level: 600L-1200L

Audience: All children, 3th -5th grade, 8-12 years old


  • Share cultures, stories of children immigrants, first and possibly second generation
  • Show how diverse each immigrant journey is
  • Focus on a diverse group of children immigrants coming from several different regions 
    • Vol 1.: Mexico (JUNE 2022)
    • Vol 2.: Yemen (April 2023)
    • Vol 3.: Cambodia (November 2023)
    • Vol 4: Hmong (April 2024)
  • Provide detailed and authentic resources for other children immigrant to reference about their culture
  • Focus on the change/transition from the immigrant’s previous life in their birth country to America
  • Show the integration of their culture and America’s culture and how they could still be themselves and follow their culture while living in America

Book Details:

  • Estimated total count of pages: 32 pages in English, translated; TOTAL: 64 pages
  • Type of book: Children’s hardcover book
  • Bilingual flip book: one language on one side (front), another on the other side (back)
  • Dimensions of book: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

Book Design:

  • Use illustration by immigrant illustrator (preferably from the same region)
  • Book cover will be a illustrated with a color portrait (all volumes will follow the same structure)
  • Color palette: each volume has its own color palette

Praise and Reviews

Abdi’s remarkable journey from Somalia to Yemen to Egypt and to the United State is essential reading for anyone interested in the human face of multiple displacements. Her encounters with revolutions, wars, and quests for social justice, as well as with arbitrary immigration regimes that separate families speak of courage, persistence to overcome obstacles, and opportunities to grow and learn. 

Daniel Naujoks, Director, Columbia University and Author of “Migration, Citizenship, and Development”, NY
Author, Law Professor, Leadership Scholar, Founder of literacy organization Planting People Growing, and Justice Leadership Institute

Storytelling is perhaps the most powerful development tool of all times. Zaynab, an incredible and effective social entrepreneur and storyteller, uses her own personal journey to inspire ideas and aspirations any country should aim at pursuing in their development goals. With this graphical and very engaging book Zaynab offers a critical contribution to help build a sense of belonging among migrant children.

André Corrêa d'Almeida, Professor and Author at Columbia University, NY
Poet, Librarian, Community Engager

Through the amazing illustrations and storytelling of this graphic novel, Zaynab Abdi brings the reader along her personal journey that stretches three continents, multiple revolutions and numerous triumphs and tribulations. This book offers readers the opportunity to engage with a powerful story in the hope of building empathy and understanding among communities across our world.


Chris Stoltenberg, Career and College Coordinator at Wellstone International High School, MN
EL, Social Studies & Ethnic Studies Teacher, South High School MSP, Anthology Editor of Immigrant Stories: Stories of Home and Dreams for our Future, 826MSP Teacher Partner for the book Words Unburden Me

This book is a treasure. With honesty and kindness, it gives a voice to young newcomers to this country. In this political climate of insecurity and hostility, my students are reassured and heartened by these stories. I am grateful to have these stories as teaching artworks, told and illustrated by understanding and genuine voices of immigrants and artists. Every story shared by Green Card Voices is a guiding map of hope for a better future. 

Olja Stipanovic, Teaching Artist, Language Acquisition through Art and Storytelling Specialist at LaGuardia College International High School, NY
Principal of Highwood Hills Elementary School in the Saint Paul Public Schools, and Chair of the Board, Minnesota Africans United

Refugees had lives before war or famine disrupted them and gave them this label. Their lives didn’t start with their displacement. This graphic novel is a powerful visual, a beautiful mosaic of art and personal stories reminding us of who people were, how they were building their lives, their dreams, goals, and aspirations. 

Nausheena Hussain, Community Leader, Former Executive Director of Reviving Sisterhood, 2016 Bush Leadership Fellow
Principal of Highwood Hills Elementary School in the Saint Paul Public Schools, and Chair of the Board, Minnesota Africans United

This book will inspire readers of all ages to challenge themselves and make a difference in the world. There are many challenges in our daily lives, yet Zaynab’s courage and tenacity serve as motivation to lead social change.

Dr. Artika R. Tyner, CEO, Planting People Growing Justice Press, Author of Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire and The Inclusive Leader: Taking Intentional Action for Justice and Equity
Director of Teaching and Learning at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Assistant Coordinator of Language and Literacy and Teaching Faculty at Edgewood College

This book is a must-read. Whether you are an immigrant, refugee, or native-born who never lived anywhere else but the place where you were born, you will be able to find part of yourself in this book. On a human level, all readers will be able to relate to Zaynab’s story of sickness, the loss of a family member, and loneliness. But, the book goes further. Zaynab is leading us from the unrest in Somalia, Yemen, and Egypt to the protests on the streets of America. How do you stay safe and strong? The answer for this author is education. 

This is a book of resilience, perseverance, and a strong spirit of a determined young woman to fight for herself and other marginalized people. In the end, this book celebrates education. Zaynab turned her life around by studying hard and never giving up.

Zana Milovanovic, Learning Specialist, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York
4th Grade Teacher Robbinsdale, MN; Human Rights Educator and Activist; Writer; Yogi; Photographer; Mom and Book Lover