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Syrian boy standing outside some tents in a refugee camp in Syria
Childhood Rescue May 2023

Forced from home

Yazan lost his childhood to war in Syria

Yazan remembers leaving his home in Syria

He was only four, but escaping the war on that rainy day is one of his earliest memories.

“I remember the planes, the weapons and how we reached here,” he says.

“As for sounds, I remember the explosions.”

When asked what else he remembers about Syria, Yazan says, “Playing. I used to play all the time in Syria. [But now] I barely play because the majority of the time I am working.”

This is the tragic reality for so many children who have fled Syria. In order to survive in their new host community, they need to work to help bring in an income for their parents.

Boy from Syria pictured walking with his younger brother, holding hands
Yazan with his younger brother at the informal settlement where he lives.

Yazan became a child labourer

Yazan, now 12, works at a vegetable market at the informal settlement where he lives in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

He packs and unloads vegetables into trucks, earning just 80p a day. It might seem like nothing, but it’s the difference between surviving the winter or not.

“All that we saved from working during summer, my father and I spent to put up nylon and shade for the tent because last winter the rain was coming inside,” says Yazan.

Without his income the family would have had no shelter.

Obviously, Yazan shouldn’t be working.

“Why aren’t I like my other friends who are studying?” he asks. “I feel tired . . . I don’t like to work.”

Local schools in Bekaa Valley won’t accept a child whose education level is too low for their age. Yazan wants to learn, but each year he falls further and further behind, making it harder to get back into school.

Boy from Syria sitting on the floor at a refugee camp shelter, writing in a notebook
Yazan studying to try and overcome the gaps in his education.

This is not childhood

In order for children to survive, recover and build a future in some of the world’s most dangerous places, they need safe spaces to play and learn, and opportunities to reach their full potential.

Thankfully, World Vision, alongside other organisations, is working in the camp where Yazan lives, in order to help children overcome their gaps in education.

And Yazan is committed to learn.

“They would teach us about letters,” he explained. “[When I got home] I would turn on YouTube and search for this letter. I would keep training until I learnt it better.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

World Vision also gave us sessions about psychological support . . . to learn how to control our anger,” he says.

Building confidence among children who have had their childhoods stolen from them is as important as teaching them how to read and write.

Yazan still has a way to go, but his confidence is growing with each day.

Two Syrian children, boy and girl, talking at a refugee camp in Lebanon
Yazan with his sister in front of their tent.
I dream of becoming an engineer so I can rebuild Syria, The world is built on wars and conflicts, that’s why I want to change it.

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