12-year-old author writes about life as a refugee and makes Toledo his new home


TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) — When you were born in a place dubbed “The Land of the Free,” like the United States, it can be easy to overlook all the opportunities here. The story of 12-year-old refugee-turned-author Tanzeel Ahmad and his family may serve as fond memories.

“I was born in Pakistan. We had to leave our country because we were persecuted for our beliefs,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad says he and his family fled to Thailand and stayed there for five years after leaving Pakistan.

“There were a lot of difficulties there that we had to go through, sometimes we had no food,” Ahmad said.

Tamsel Adel, Ahmad’s brother, tells 13abc that they couldn’t even afford to go to school until they came to the US, adding that most of their previous knowledge came from YouTube.

“We actually learned English from there,” Adel said.

Ahmad says he didn’t even plan to write a book. In fact, the possibility didn’t even cross his mind until his sixth grade teacher approached him during a writing assignment.

“It was actually an essay where you could write about anything, but I wanted to do a personal story. When I gave her the draft, she wanted me to write a book,” Ahmad said.

That’s exactly what Ahmad and his teacher did, they wrote a book together and called it “My History of America”.

“I’m proud of him,” Adel said.

“It was amazing sitting there writing,” Ahmad said.

“I’m proud of him and thank God,” said Esma Adel, Ahmad’s mother.

We asked Ahmad what the next step was.

The future seventh grader from local Washington schools said he will continue to study hard because one day he wants to be a doctor and he also hopes to write another book.

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