Syria: 11 years of conflict. 11 years of lost childhood.
Three Syrian girls. All born the year the conflict started. All displaced from their homes.
Millions of children were born in Syria since the conflict began more than a decade ago. Many are regularly exposed to violence and explosive weapon attacks. Thousands have lost family members and been forced to flee their homes to camps in faraway places and across neighboring countries. Most continue to experience, daily, numerous violations of their basic rights to health, education and protection. These are some of their stories.
Amra, 11, Northwest Syria: “What is our crime that we must remain uneducated?”
When the conflict in Syria began, Amra lived in a big house with lots of toys. Her siblings tell her that they had their own room and so did her parents. The children even had a playroom. They were happy until an airstrike destroyed their home and injured Amra’s father. Shaken, Amra’s father packed his family into a car and moved them to another village.
Her mother enrolled her in school and Amra adjusted to the new neighbourhood. She played and made new friends, and then another airstrike hit, killing Amra’s friends. Again, the family moved. Amra restarted school and her grandmother gave her a toy for doing well. But it wasn’t long before an airstrike hit, killing another of Amra’s friends.
The family moved again, and again and again, finally ending up in a dark, mouldy basement room that reeked of sewage. Unable to watch his family suffer, Amra’s father moved his wife and children to camp for displaced persons.
Amra misses her old school. She tries to teach her friends the alphabet and everything she remembers. But she asks, “We, a whole generation, what is our crime that we must remain uneducated?”
Hana, 11, Northwest Syria: “I wish every child could complete their education.”
Hana was born at the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011. When she was two years old, she and her family were forced to flee. Although she was quite young, she remembers her house had a beautiful swing and a garden with flowers and orange trees. Hana has fond memories of playing in the garden and going to the market with her mother. “Our village was very beautiful. People used to visit from all over because of our beautiful parks,” she says.
In the intervening years, the family moved multiple times. For the last six months, they’ve been living in a camp in a mountainous region in Northwest Syria. “I wish the war would stop so everyone could return home. I wish every child could go back to school and complete their education,” she says.
Hana attends school in the camp. Her biggest fear is that the war or her living conditions will delay or end her education. She loves to study English and dreams of becoming an English language teacher someday. “I want to tell girls outside Syria that although we are living in a camp, we love school because we want to become architects, doctors and teachers,” she says. “I am proud of myself because with all the challenges we are facing, the war, displacement, no schools, I am still determined to become a teacher.”
Bushra, 11, Northeast Syria: “I couldn’t get treatment because of the war.”
When she was just a toddler, Bushra’s mother discovered something worrying about her little girl. Bushra was born with a condition that prevented the use of her legs. With conflict having broken out in Syria the same year Bushra was born, treatment was put on hold.
Three years ago, Bushra, her mother and four siblings fled with just the clothes on their backs to an informal settlement for displaced persons after shelling destroyed their home. Her parents having separated, Bushra’s mother is now the family’s sole breadwinner. With three children under the age of six, and Bushra needing help to get around, her mother has found it difficult to find work and feed the family. Bushra’s treatment seems like an impossible dream. “Bushra was so depressed and unhappy. Now she goes to the playcentre in the camp. She started to play. I am so happy to see her smile. My children had a good and stable life before the war. Now there’s no dignity, no security,” says Bushra’s mother.
A few months ago, Bushra broke both legs while attempting to transfer to another chair on her own. CARE has helped Bushra get a wheelchair so she can get around independently. She has also started school. Bushra has just three desires in life: to walk, become a teacher, and for the conflict to end.
CARE has been working in Syria since 2013 and has so far reached more than 9 million people. You can give hope to children like Amra, Hana and Bushra who are living with war every day.
CARE International UK's humanitarian work is supported with funding raised by players of the People's Postcode Lottery.
Women like Farah need our help nowIn Syria, conflict has been raging for over 11 years. It’s hard for us to imagine living through 11 years...11-year-old Syrian refugees Habiba and Atiya share their stories.