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Marah the mathematician

27 March 2024, Impact of Our Work

Accessing education in Syria amidst bombings, shells and earthquakes 

“My name is Marah* I'm in the fourth grade and I'm 11 years old.” 

Marah currently lives in a camp in the northwest Syrian countryside. Like millions of children and their families in Syria, Marah and her family have faced immense challenges due to the ongoing civil war, which is now in its 13th year. Then, in February 2023, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit northern Syria and southern Türkiye. 

A disaster on top of a disaster 

“We were displaced [from] our homes. We fled due to bombings, shells, and earthquakes,”  says Marah. 

She recalls the confusion on the night of the earthquake. “My mom and dad woke up. They thought it was the sound of the wind; they believed it was just the wind. My dad went outside, thinking a stone had fallen. When he went out, he discovered it was an earthquake.”

Portrait of Marah's family, including her father, brother and sister. 

For children like Marah, the compounding impact of these disasters has threatened both their everyday lives and their futures.

“The school that was [in the camp] had torn tents, ruined by the earthquakes and bombing and there was no light, it was dark. We couldn't see the board as it was small and placed on the ground. Every time the teacher wrote on it, it falls down. It was an awful place.”

New space brings new hope

Thanks to our incredible supporters, we have been able to provide a space for Marah to learn and feel safe. In partnership with Better Shelter, Save the Children has imported and repurposed tents that were once used for administrative purposes for educational use. 

Marah smiling with her friends during a lesson in one of the repurposed tents.

These educational tents have offered Marah the opportunity to participate in educational activities, protection activities, and receive psychosocial support, which has helped reveal her talents and abilities.

The school is good; there is a garden where we play. Our teacher plays with us a lot, and it's good. The situation is better now because I study and go out with my friends, and I have access to education.


Marah excels in school. She has discovered a love for many subjects, including a particular aptitude for maths and poetry. This talent was developed in the educational tents, where Marah felt secure among a group of friends to strengthen her maths skills and recite poetry. 

Marah and a group of friends during a psychosocial support session.

“I aspire to become a teacher and teach the second grade and I always dream of one day teaching mathematics.”

Helping girls to learn and lead

Save the Children is a child rights-based organisation, and that’s why every year we mark International Women’s Day, which took place on 8 March. We celebrate the incredible bravery and determination of girls like Marah who, despite the immense scale of the challenges they face, persevere and maintain a desire to make the world a better place. 

Watch the video below to meet our amazing trailblazers – five girls from around the world who are standing up for their rights, learning and leading their communities toward a brighter future.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Photos: Bonyan / Save The Children.

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