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Even as children here and abroad settle into their school routines, thousands of Syrian teenagers have put their secondary education on hold as they struggle to help familes survive in the refugee camps. But they still dream of day when they have time to return to school.
Seventeen-year-old Aya only had one year of high school to finish, when her family left Syria. Currently they are living in the Zaatari refugee camp.
Her family never intended to leave their home, but when bombing began in Sheikh Miskeen, her house was one of the ones hit. Debris struck her eight-year-old brother in the head and glass showered down on a niece and a nephew, she said when Sumaya Agha from Mercy Corps met her.
“In a blink of an eye, the wall had fallen on top of us,” Aya remembered. Luckily all of her extended family of twelve survived and made it out.
Now this teenager, a girl who looked forward to school and used to read every day, spends her time helping her family maintain a semblance of regular life in the camp. Twice a day, Aya walks to their neighborhood water supply, bringing back the two heavy jugs.
“We never expected to come to the camp. We never had it in mind, but then our house was hit. If our house was hit, then our relative’s house could be hit. It was not safe,” Aya said.
“In Syria we stayed up to late hours visiting with family and friends. Here you have to go to bed early to wake up early to get water before it runs out,” she added.
Mercy Corps has been increasing the number of water-supply projects throughout Jordan to help families like Aya’s. The projects are helping to alleviate the extra demand for water that the influx of over 500,000 refugees has created in the country that was only six million prior to the Syrian conflict.
They have completed built two wells in Zaatari camp and are just finishing up the second pump station to serve more than 120,000 residents of the camp. The same work recently begun in the new camp at Azraq, which opened in September.
Aya continues to plan for her future, including qualifying as a schoolteacher. “Sometimes I play with the children in the playground in the morning or when it cools down in the evening,” she told Agha. “That makes me happy.”
GreaterGood.org’s support of Mercy Corps efforts to bring food, water, and more to the children caught in these camps is supported by the Gifts That Give More program as well as other contributions from The Hunger Site.
(Story and photos courtesy of Sumaya Agha/Mercy Corps. This story was originally reported in September on the Mercy Corps blog and is reproduced with permission here.)