Our Story

Good Morning, Hope is the inspiring true story of the Zalli family, forced by war to flee their beloved homeland. As refugees, they faced some of the most important issues of our times, including poverty, bullying, graft, and greed. Yet, through their mutual support, the beautiful twin sisters Detina and Argita Zalli worked together to achieve great success as PhD scientists, honored by Harvard University.

In 1997, Albania experienced a financial crisis far worse than the global financial crisis that would come a decade later. Monetary Armageddon crashed into this naive free market economy with enough force to wipe out over 60 percent of the country’s wealth—overnight. The government toppled, and pandemonium broke out in the streets.

Tons of munitions were looted from Soviet-era armories, and every man aged twelve and older was forced to carry a gun to survive. A monetary implosion of this magnitude set into motion a series of escalating events that propelled the Zalli family down a rabbit hole, rocketing them from bad to worse.

It took over two years for them to escape the madness. They wanted desperately to go to the United States, but their attempts were thwarted by the Albanian mafia. When the Zallis finally made it to England, smuggled out by truck, the thirteen-year-old twins believed life would be much better—but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Now refugees, the girls were mercilessly bullied by their peers and constantly afraid that they would be sent back to Albania and their parents sent to jail. Work was hard to come by for their father.

But not only did the twins survive, they thrived. Their sense of humor, coupled with their inherent genius, charm, and near-psychic ability to work together, helped them overcome their many challenges. Together, they outsmarted the bullies, sidestepped MI6 and the SAS, disposed of a kidnapping pimp, and went on to become highly accomplished PhD research scientists.

Influenced by Barack Obama and eager to help others, they founded We Speak Science, a nonprofit organization that supports disadvantaged students throughout the world, particularly immigrants, whose circumstances hinder their ability to learn at school.
In Good Morning, Hope, Detina and Argita share their remarkable, action-packed journey, as well as their mysterious, unique bond as twins, which nurtured and sustained them throughout their perilous ordeal.

Quotes taken from the book: ‘Good Morning, Hope’.

1. Deti: ‘Oh, I wish I was born in the USA. How lucky are those kids! They get to play with toys and study in good classrooms. They are safe. We have no toys. The windows of our classroom are broken. There are no heaters, and the winter is very harsh. But this is not the problem. The problem is those gunmen who may come again. And if they do, where do we hide? What will happen with us?’.

2. Deti: ‘I have to run fast. I cannot stop. If I turn my head back, I will lose one second. I have to escape. If they catch me, it will be the end. I have to go. I have to warn my twin.

3. There is no bigger fear for a child than losing a parent. Losing my father was my biggest fear. Wherever he was, I had to find him. Running in the nights with bullets behind me became normal. I was very scared but very brave. I guess I was a brave coward.

4. Trucks and refugees, yes, the two are related, and they make people angry. They do not understand. Why do refugees arrive from other countries? Are they illegal? I see both with hope. We hope to flee from our deaths. Trucks became our lottery to the UK.

5. People forget that we are human beings. People forget that we were forced to leave so that the bullets down the road do not hit us.

6. Despite everything, in my heart, I am just a kid who sees the world with colorful dreams.

7. To me the dreams are my daily bread, and the determination is like my oxygen, without which I cannot live.

8. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.

Argita Zalli

Learning Designer Lead

Dr Argita Zalli is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Genomic Medicine at the Imperial College, London.  

Detina Zalli

Senior Lecturer

Dr Detina Zalli is a Senior Lecturer in Genomic Medicine/Personalise Medicine at the Imperial College, London.