I Went From Billionaire Daughter To Homeless At 10
- Published: 07 October 2019
- Hey, my name is Jasmin and more than 2 decades ago, I was born into a very rich and powerful family in Syria. I was an only child and my parents made sure I had everything I needed.
They even got me a new baby tiger every few months, so I could ride on his back through our palace.
But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. I was only 10 when my dad ran into my room and said “Jasmin, my love. You have to flee this palace immediately. There is a hidden tunnel that will bring you outside and from there you have to go to uncle Nabil’s home. He will take care of you. Just trust me and we will see each other again soon!”
I remember being petrified, but I followed my dad’s order and went with one of my maids through the tunnel. It was connected to the sewage water system of our city and we had to climb out of a manhole cover to get out again.
When we arrived in front of my uncle Nabil’s home, we saw several policemen in front of it. And then they forcefully brought him outside and put him into their black van.
My maid wasn’t sure what to do, but she said we could go to her hometown and live with her family for some time. Of course, I didn’t wanna do that. I wanted to find my parents.
So, when my maid was distracted for a moment, I took my chance and ran away to find my parents. And because I had grown up in a palace, I was pretty naive and I didn’t know much about the life outside.
Suddenly, I was all alone in a big city. I walked back to my parents palace but I could see from afar how it was burning. I felt so hopeless that I just broke down and cried.
From one day to the other, I had lost everything. My parents, my home and now also my maid. The first night sleeping on the streets was the most horrible experience of my life.
It was that night when I learned that unless someone protects you that other people will try to take advantage of you. Even if you are only 10 years old.
Tired and scared, I went to the shop of an old woman who was selling bread. I asked if I could work for her in exchange for shelter and luckily, she agreed.
She made me work very hard, but at least it made me forget about my problems.
But one night, the old woman asked me about my parents and I told her my family name. At first, she didn’t believe that I was the child of one of the richest and most powerful families in our country.
But when she realised I was telling the truth she got angry and said my family had stolen her uncles land which led him to become poor and homeless. Of course, I was just a little girl and had no idea what she was talking about, but she must have hated my family a lot. Because next, she kicked me out of her shop and onto the streets again.
Trust me, you don’t wanna be alone on the streets at night as a 10 year old girl. I’ll spare you the details, but that was the beginning of the worst period in my life.
For weeks, I was begging on the streets for food until one day a man approached me and asked for my name. I wasn’t sure if I should trust him. But I was so weak and hungry that I just didn’t care anymore. So I told him my family name and who I was.
I was lucky, he turned out to be an old friend of my dad who had been searching for me since I disappeared. Later that day, he explained to me what was going on.
He said my dad had refused to give half of his money to the new ruler of Syria and therefore he was thrown into prison. He also told me that my parents probably weren’t alive anymore.
But I was too young to understand what that meant. I still thought my parents were simply playing a game and soon we would be reunited.
But the next week, my dad’s friend gave me a fake passport and send me to the United States of America to start a new life. I was picked up by someone who turned out to be a distant relative of mine. And even though he had never met my dad or mom, he was generous enough to raise me.
It was a strange relationship though. He didn’t treat me like a daughter, but rather as a maid who had to clean his apartment and cook for his family in exchange for being allowed to live with him.
His daughter was the same age as me and never liked me. For her, I was some kind of parasite and she always gave me orders telling me to clean up her room or go wash her dishes.
But even though she never treated me with respect, I still couldn’t hate her. She and her family were the reason I wasn’t living on the streets of Syria anymore. And cleaning and cooking for a whole family from age 10, taught me a hard work ethic.
So when I went to university, I studied harder than any of my classmates and after 3 years I graduated ‘Summa Cum Laude’ from Colombia University.
Afterward, I started my own home cleaning company, which today has more than 90 employees. I just kept on working harder and harder, driven by my fear of ending up on the streets again. But even though I achieved a lot of success in my life, I still felt like something was missing.