When war breaks out, children experience terrifying horrors.
The war in Syria is now seven years old. Millions of Syrian children have been forced to leave their homes, their schools and their friends.
They are now living in refugee settlements and host communities across the region. Some have been born in exile and have never seen their homeland – and won’t until peace returns.
13-year-old Rasha wants you to know what happens to a child when war breaks out.
“I want everyone to hear my story.”
Rasha wasn’t in her school in Syria when it was bombed – she was standing by the gate.
“What I saw was truly terrifying,”
she remembers. “Many of my friends were injured and people were dead. One of my friends died in front of me and I saw the blood.”
That afternoon her neighbour’s house was bombed and destroyed. Rasha didn’t feel safe – all that was left of her school was a pile of rubble. Her neighbour’s house was gone. Would her home be next?
“I didn’t want to leave,”
Rasha says, “I didn’t want to say goodbye to my brother”
. But she had to.
“I feel much better than I used to... At the same time, there are things you cannot forget.”
Her parents took her to Jordan, where another of her brothers lived and helped them find a place to stay. Rasha had escaped the war in Syria, but what she’d seen stayed with her.
She was so deeply traumatised by seeing her friends injured and killed that she did not leave the flat in Jordan for a year.
“I used to listen to the aeroplanes and get really scared. I couldn’t even open the windows.”
A chance to feel safe again
When a member of her family started visiting a centre Save the Children runs for refugee children like Rasha, she was intrigued.
“I wanted to try it for myself. It has become a second home to me. I love the classes. I don’t miss a day. We take psychosocial classes, English, life skills, Arabic, maths and science.”
Rasha, who is now 13, finally found a place where she felt safe. She has learned to talk about what happened to her and has received the support she needed to deal with her trauma.
“I feel much better than I used to now. At the same time, there are things you cannot forget.”
Now, Rasha is thinking of the future. “I want to become a doctor”
, she says.
With the support of people like you, we're still working to make sure that Syrian refugee children can be the children they should be.
For many, life has been shaped by a war that – this March – is as old as them. In their eyes the camps and host communities where they live are ‘home’.
In Jordan we’re running early childhood programs to help children prepare for school, and providing Child Friendly Spaces that give children the chance to learn, to play and to begin to reclaim their childhood.
*Names changed to protect identity
Header image: Lucia Zoro/Save the Children