Syria

Rebuilding lives and restoring hope in Syria

Since the conflict in Syria erupted nine years ago, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has worked tirelessly to protect and assist the most vulnerable across the country and in neighbouring ones. We have delivered basic household items and tents in emergencies, repaired schools and homes and provided learning opportunities to out-of-school children and youth.

NRC is one of the few humanitarian organisations working across all of Syria. As the conflict has evolved, we have adapted our response to keep meeting the needs of the displaced and those hosting them. In this time, we have witnessed the strength and courage of Syrians first-hand as families support one another in displacement and try to reclaim hope for the future. Here are some of their stories.

On International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating strong women like Reham from Syria who, despite the many obstacles, continues to fight for her dreams.

“We had to leave everything behind. My father went missing and the area wasn’t safe anymore.” When the crisis broke out in Syria, Reham and her mother had to flee their home. Shortly after, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Reham was forced to drop out of school and at age 19 she gave birth to her first child, who suffers from a chronic disease.

As a young mother, Reham is determined to complete her education. “I want to become a doctor so that I can treat my son and any child who suffers from illness,” she says.

Reham, now 22, is continuing her studies through NRC’s self-learning programme for youth. “The best part of this programme is that they provide an interactive way to learn – it’s not formal,” she explains.

Being a mother and a student at the same time is no easy task. Reham describes having to juggle these two roles and the big responsibility she shoulders; but nothing can stop her fierce determination. “I wake every day at five in the morning to study and when I come back home, I care for my son.”

Reham has applied to sit her secondary school exams, helping her move closer towards fulfilling her ambitious dreams.

“I encourage and call upon every young girl who left her studies during the crisis to return to school because she can make it!”
Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC
Read caption Despite the many obstacles, Reham is determined to complete her education so that she can become a doctor. Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC

Reham - the future doctor

“We had to leave everything behind. My father went missing and the area wasn’t safe anymore.” When the war broke out, Reham and her mother had to flee their home. Her mother was then diagnosed with cancer. Reham was forced to drop out of school and at age 19 gave birth to her first child, who suffers from a chronic disease.

Reham is more determined than ever to complete her education. “I want to become a doctor so that I can treat my son and any child who suffers from illness,” she says.

Reham, now 22, is continuing her studies through NRC’s self-learning programme for youth. Being a mother and a student at the same time is no easy task, but nothing can stop her fierce determination.

“I wake every day at five in the morning to study and when I come back home, I care for my son,” she says. “I encourage and call upon every young girl who left her studies during the crisis to return to school, because she can make it!”

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Read caption Doaa hopes that in the future she can start her own sewing workshop. Photo: Tareq Mnadili /NRC

Doaa – the sewing master

“I love sewing and I wanted to master it in a professional way. In this programme, I’ve learned how to tailor clothes, dresses and pyjamas. Managing my own project has made me more confident in myself,” says Doaa, 22, from Eastern Ghouta, Syria.

After three months in this programme, each successful participant is provided with a package of basic materials and tools that will enable them to start working independently.

“In the future, I will start up my own workshop, using the machines provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council. I advise young men and women to learn a profession so they can be self-reliant in the future.”

Read caption Fatima, a teacher in rural Damascus, says that the children of Syria give her hope. Photo: Tareq Mnadili /NRC

Fatima – the inspiring teacher

"The crisis in Syria has affected many children who have dropped out of school to support their families financially. Most of them have lost their fathers and been left with no choice but to abandon their education,” says Fatima, a teacher in rural Damascus, Syria.

Creating welcoming schools is one of our major programmes in Syria. In 2019, we completed the rehabilitation of over 21 schools, equipped them as safe, conducive learning spaces for more than 38,000 children to return to learning.

“The rehabilitation process made a remarkable change in the schools, not only architecturally but also on the lives of the children, who are now more encouraged to pursue their education in a child-friendly environment. I have hope! My hope relies on our next generation,” says Fatima.

 

Mohamed, (16), had to drop school at the age of fourteen due of his unsatisfactory performance. After joining the self-learning program supported by NRC Syria, he was able to pass grade 8. In the meantime, he is preparing to sit his 9th grade exams. We wish him all the best!
The Norwegian refugee council is providing this type of program to youth like Mohamad. He is among the many students who participated in the self-learning program conducted by NRC in Rural Damascus. 

Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC
Read caption Mohamad is catching up with other young people his age through NRC’s self-learning programme. Photo: Tareq Mnadili /NRC

Mohamed – the self-learner

Mohamed, 16, had to drop out of school at the age of 14. After joining a self-learning programme supported by NRC last year, he’s been able to pass eighth grade and is preparing to sit his ninth grade exams.

Mohamad is one of the many young people who have been able to participate in our self-learning programme in rural Damascus, thanks to our dedicated colleagues in Syria.

"I’ve never worked before, but through this programme I’ve learned how to make cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other sweets. I am planning to open my own cake shop one day,” says Weam, 24, one of the participants of our youth programme in Syria.
This type of programme offers flexible pathways to youth who have not completed a basic education or who are unemployed due to the effects of the crisis. It focuses on encouragement and life skills, and opens up new opportunities for livelihoods and personal growth.

Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC
Read caption Waem plans on using her baking skills to open up a cake shop one day. Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC

Weam – the colourful cake creator

"I have never worked before but throughout this programme I learned how to make cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other sweets,” says Weam, 24, a participant in NRC’s youth programme.

These activities provide flexible pathways to learning and employment for young people who have not completed their basic education. Skills-building classes provide encouragement, comradery and opportunities for new livelihoods.

“I am planning to have my own cake store one day.”

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Nine years on, Syrians have experienced so much loss, trauma and uncertainty. Nonetheless, many with whom we work continue to display hope, resilience and great strength. Syrians are much more than victims of a tragic conflict. They are nurses, teachers, grandparents, schoolchildren, business owners, husbands, wives. And they deserve protection and opportunities to rebuild their lives now and into the future.

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