Breaking through fear

By generous contribution from the Netherlands, UNICEF implements self-learning programme in five centers allowing over 4,000 children like Ra’ed to reach their full potential in life.

UNICEF
a student boy
UNICEF/Syria2019/Aldroubi
03 February 2020

Homs, Syria, 27 January 2020- “My life has been difficult,” says Ra’ed, now 17, focusing his eyes on the rain pouring outside his self-learning classroom as he recalls some harsh memories. “It has been cruel and unstable to say the least,” he adds.

Back when he was starting grade 3 over nine years ago, escalating violence in his village of Taldaw in northern rural Homs meant that Raid could only attend school sporadically. Ra’ed was determined to continue his learning despite the challenges - until one day, he was forced to completely drop out.

"My life has been difficult"

Ra'ed, 17

“I had just started Grade 8 when my life quickly fell apart,” recalls Ra’ed. “Fighting intensified; my mother was gravely injured in violence and our house was seriously damaged, forcing us to flee and stay with relatives.”

“Around the same time, my parents separated, and I found myself responsible for my mother who was unable to walk, three younger siblings, and myself – all while I was still a child,” he continues, capturing the essence of his plight.

To put bread on the table, Ra’ed took a job working double shifts at a dairy factory. Although he managed to support his family financially, he was sad to give up on his dreams.

“It wasn’t the life I wanted,” recalls Ra’ed. “I had always dreamed of becoming a civil engineer, but I had to give up on my ambition.”

“No one should ever give up on their future. It’s not easy but I will carry on until I realize my dreams!”

Ra'ed, 17
 young child playing with colored straps
UNICEF/Syria2019/Aldroubi
Ra’ed at a psychosocial support activity.

It was only last year that life started looking up again for Ra’ed. A neighbor told him about a UNICEF-supported multi-service center in his village, where children receive education and protection services.

“Without a moment of hesitation, I enrolled at the center,” says Ra’ed who signed up for the UNICEF-supported self-learning programme, a curriculum specially designed for children who are unable to attend school because of violence or displacement, to continue their learning in community centers or at home with the help of a caregiver or volunteers.

“At first, it was overwhelming trying to juggle both work and learning,” he recalls. “But with the help of the councilor at the center and with the psychosocial support sessions, I learned to manage my stress and my time better.”

Ra’ed also made a lot of friends at the center that have become his support system.

“No one should ever give up on their future. It’s not easy but I will carry on until I realize my dreams!”.

Thanks to a generous contribution from the Dutch National Committee, Educate a Child (EAC) and the government of Japan, UNICEF implements the self-learning programme in five centers in Homs and Hama governorates, allowing over 4,000 children like Ra’ed to reach their full potential in life.