“When there’s education, there’s always light”
Despite the challenges she has faced, Syrian refugee Hazaar won’t let anything stop her completing her education
Hazaar, 18, is feeling remarkably calm despite the pressure of final year exams weighing on her. “We’re almost there,” she exclaims cheerfully.
No stranger to adversity, her journey to complete her education has been a fraught one. As a young girl growing up in Syria, she was forced to change schools six times in three years as her family were repeatedly displaced by the conflict.
“My parents considered two things when deciding where to go next – safety and a functioning school,” she explains. Sitting at her desk in the UNICEF ‘Hope Makers’ Youth Centre in the camp, Hazaar reflects on the disruption caused by a childhood on the move. “Wherever I went, I always felt alone.”
“If I could talk to that girl now, I would tell her ‘you are strong and you will get through this. The best is yet to come. Keep going – nothing is impossible.”
Eventually her family decided it was no longer safe to stay and they fled to Jordan, settling in Azraq refugee camp.
Her parents’ love of learning and commitment to their children’s education was her constant throughout these tumultuous time – even when she missed the entire fifth grade as the family fled. “We were never cut off because my parents always encouraged us to write and read stories.”
Once in the camp, Hazaar enrolled in the UNICEF-supported Ministry of Education school where she immediately threw herself into catching up with her learning and getting to grips with a new curriculum.
Taking full advantage of the range of supports provided by UNICEF and partners – from remedial education to learning support services in her nearest Makani centre – she defied the odds to reach the final grade of secondary school.
“I’m happy,” says Hazaar. “Finally, my hard work throughout all these years is coming to an end.”
Her biggest challenge this year has been finding a reliable and quiet place to study for the final year ‘Tawjihi’ exams. As well as failing to provide a comfortable place to study, she also struggled at home to access the internet. This meant she would wake up at 2 a.m. every night to go online when there was less traffic on the network.
“My classmates told me about the [youth] centre. Now it’s like my second home. It is so special and provides us with everything we need – including the internet. The facilitators also really support and motivate us.”
The Youth Centre is a dedicated space for young people aged 16-24 years in the camp and provides Tawjihi students with a stable internet connection, access to online learning platforms and electronic devices, and a space where the young students can study alone or with friends.
Hazaar is filled with a quiet confidence for her future and hopes to continue her studies after her final exams.
“Even if Tawjihi is the hardest year, I will still miss it because I love learning. But I’m optimistic and I believe that I will find a way to go to university. Because where there is education, there is always light.”
UNICEF’s Youth Centre in Azraq refugee camp is generously supported by funding from the Government of the Netherlands through the Prospects partnership and the United States Government. UNICEF is also grateful to the European Union, KfW and the United States Government for supporting the provision of quality education in the camp.