Young Syrian refugees film lives to remind world leaders of education pledge
Watch Henry Ridgwell's video report
Four Syrian children offered a glimpse into the hardship and heartbreak of life as a refugee by making videos about their everyday lives over six months, hoping to remind world leaders of their promise to educate Syrian children.
"I studied until the 8th grade, whilst I was in Palmyra, which is three hours away from our hometown of Homs," says 15-year-old Asmah in her self-narrated film titled ‘Too Young to Wed’. "At that point, my family got me engaged, which I agreed to as I wanted to relieve my parents of their fear over me."
Asmah’s parents feared Syrian fighters would attack their unmarried daughter. She was just 12 years old on her wedding day.
"I got pregnant four months into my marriage," she says. "I was very happy I was going to have a child, but I was also afraid of labor."
Asmah is now living in Turkey, pregnant with her second child, unable to study and struggling to cope.
Her film is one of four overseen by the charity Theirworld. The idea stems from an $11 billion pledge made at a 2016 ‘Supporting Syria' Conference in London.
"World leaders said they would get every Syrian child back into school," said Fiona Duggan, a senior project manager at Theirworld. "And we want to show what those lives of the children who are out of school was really like. And who best to show that but the children themselves?"
There are flickers of childhood joy. But the hardships of refugee life are ever present.
In his film, 12-year-old Mustafa talks about collecting recyclable trash to help support his family.
"I leave home at 10pm so people don’t see me, because I am too ashamed to leave during the day."
Throughout all the films there is a deep longing for the past.
"The war has been hard on us, especially my younger siblings," says Rojin, a 16-year-old girl.
"It breaks my heart to see them unable to read or write."
Bassam’s film begins with the heartbreak of separation.
"I was 12 years old when my father travelled," says Bassam, who is now 14. "He went to Europe by sea. When he left, my mother, my sister and I cried. I was very scared for him."
There is a happy ending – Bassam and his family are granted asylum to live with their father in Austria.
"When I went back to school, I was so happy as I hadn’t been to school in three years," says Bassam.
Theirworld says 2 million Syrian children are still waiting to go back to school – an entire generation denied an education.