Millions of people have fled the civil war in Syria, with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees now living in Jordan.
Adapting to a new life in a different country after fleeing the trauma of war is incredibly difficult. Most Syrian families live in poverty. Syrian refugees have difficulties finding employment and education opportunities. Post-traumatic symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are common. Many wait for asylum in a western country or information on their friends and relatives.
Refugee girls are particularly vulnerable because of their age and gender. Girls interrupt their studies more often than boys and many have to marry young in order to support their families. Sexual violence also typically becomes more pronounced in a time of crisis.
Plan International supports refugee families in the refugee camp of Azraq and East Amman in Jordan. In uncertain times it’s dreams and hope for the future that keep many refugees going from day to day. We interviewed girls and women about their most important dreams. Here’s what they shared with us.
“I only went to school for two years in Syria, and I hadn’t learnt to read or write yet. In the Azraq refugee camp, I went to school again. I used a computer properly for the first time and fell in love with computers. One can learn anything with a computer! I dream of becoming a computer expert who teaches others how to use a computer.
I also dream of returning to Syria and being surrounded by woods and greenness. It’s difficult for me to live in the middle of a desert.”
“I dream of becoming an astronomer and an astronaut. In Syria, I never really noticed the stars. I used to watch action films at nights. When my family moved to the camp in the desert, I had nothing to do at nights. We didn’t have electricity at first, so I would just sit outside and gaze at the stars. They shine so bright here! The Milky Way and the planets started to fascinate me. I want to become the first Syrian woman on the Moon.”
“I miss my hometown Damascus: its buildings, atmosphere and people. I feel like part of my soul remained in Syria four years ago when we left, and now there’s an empty space in me. I dream of feeling free. I want to feel like a normal person who can go whenever she wants.
Even as a small child, I wondered why some children have no hair. When I heard it was because of chemotherapy, I wanted to help them. I want to become a paediatrician and specialise in oncology. Maybe I will become so good that I will find a revolutionary cure for cancer.”
“I feel safe in the camp, but I don’t feel at home. Home is the place where I am rooted, it is where I grew up. I dream of returning to Damascus and being reunited with my extended family and old friends.
I love adventures and often dream about travelling. I have never been on an airplane, but I’d like to know what taking off feels like. I dream of flying to Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower.”
“I stopped going to school after the sixth grade. I wish my children could study for as long as they want – become doctors if they want! It makes me happy to see them play and learn in Plan’s early education group.
Every Syrian refugee in this camp dreams of going back home. But our homes have been destroyed and Syria is at war. At the moment, I would be content with a safe place where people would treat us as equals, with dignity, and where my children could eat their fill.”
“I look after my five children alone at the Azraq refugee camp. It pains me to watch them grow up here without being able to offer them anything. I feel like a prisoner or a watchdog in its cage.
I dream of seeing my children go to universities. And I would like to work at a daycare centre. When the war ends, I want to move back to Syria. If this is not possible, I would like to move to Europe with my family to be safe.
It is difficult to sustain a dream in this camp, because one needs to dream of safety all the time. However, dreams give me hope and help me carry on.”
“I love stories and reading, but I don’t have any books. I dream of having all kinds of books to read.
In Homs, we had a nice home and enough food. Now we live in a cold home with no other furniture besides mattresses. My mom and dad are afraid that we will be evicted. I dream of living in a safe home with real beds with my family.”
“My dream is to become a doctor, because I want to help others. I had to go to a hospital once, but the doctor didn’t find any disease in me – I simply hadn’t eaten enough vitamins. One of my biggest dreams is to have proper food.
I miss my large family. I dream of being reunited with them and having fun.”
“I still have nightmares of the violence I saw. Sometimes my children see me crying and ask why I’m so sad when we’re safe now.
I don’t even have the words to describe the joy I feel when I see my children happily playing and learning new things at the early education centre. We have had our share of grief and hardship. They also have the right to just be happy, smiley children at times.”
“I dream of a big, red teddy bear to sleep with. I would also like to see my grandmother. I haven’t seen her in a long, long time.”
“We lived like prisoners in Aleppo, Syria. My mother wouldn’t let me and my three brothers out, not even to go to school. I never saw my friends.
We came here about a year ago. Although the circumstances are harsh, I feel safe in the camp. I have made friends, and it feels great to walk to school with them, do homework and play on our phones.
I dream of becoming a maths teacher, because I love numbers. I also dream of returning to Syria when the war is over.”
“We escaped from Homs hidden inside a truck three years ago. I miss my school and my friends. Many of them are living as refugees in Lebanon. I don’t know how they are doing. I dream of seeing my best friends again.
I want to become an English teacher. My own teacher motivates me by being so supportive. I am the best in my class, which makes me want to practise harder, even though I can only say “I am Nadira” at the moment.”
* Names have been changed to protect identities