Meeting Syrian children refugees in Irbid
Salam and Yana, 10 and 18 years old
“I wish I had not been born”, little Salam°, only 10 years, blurted out at his parents. The young Syrian saw bombs fall barely a hundred meters from his home. Since arriving in Jordan in 2012, he still finds it difficult to communicate with strangers. His wish is “to become an Arabic teacher” and he is “very happy” to participate in the activities organised by Terre des hommes, with the support of Swiss Solidarity and UNICEF he especially enjoys painting and the game of musical chairs.
His sister Yana° is 18. She is “sad” to be in Jordan, where she can’t continue her studies in literature, because it is too expensive. She is however “interested in helping the community”, and volunteered with Terre des hommes to lead sessions on girls’ issues: together, they discuss their situation, their needs and concerns and address subjects such as smoking or early marriage.
What about early marriage? A harmful practice, according to Yana: “A 14-year-old girl’s body is not ready to bear a child. How could she care for one, while she is still a child herself ?”. Yana’s mother also speaks out against early marriage. She was married at the age of 17, “by tradition”. She is delighted that her daughter still lives with the family.
Abd Al-Malek, Mohammad and Mariam, 4, 9 and 12 years old
Mariam is 12. She lives a few kilometers away from Yana, with her large family of nine. So far, she doesn’t feel concerned by marriage. She wants to become an artist. Tdh’s art workshops gave her a taste for painting. During the sessions, she also learned about her rights and how to stand for them. She became “stronger”, according to her mother, who believes this assertiveness is important.
Her brother Mohammad, 9, also enjoys painting. But he wants to become a maths teacher. He misses his uncle and his farm full of animals back in Syria a lot.
Their little brother Abd-Al Malek, who was born at the beginning of the Syrian conflict and is now 4 years old, has no recollection of his country. He has therefore adjusted quite well to life in Jordan, his mother explains. His only sorrow is to not being able to participate in Tdh’s activities yet. “Please take me with you on the bus!”, he calls out to his brother and sister when they depart towards Irbid to take part in Tdh’s sessions. Don’t worry, his wish will be fulfilled in a few weeks’ time.
°Not their real names. Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Look at the pictures of our work with Syrian children.
Every year, Terre des hommes makes a difference to the daily lives of over two million children and relatives. Find out more about our projects in Syria and Jordan.
Syrian crisis: 4 years of conflict
Jordan: “Life has become even harder.”
Giving hope to Syrian refugees