In Syria, Palestine refugees create hope in the midst of tragedy

19 June 2013

19 June 2013
Syria

UNRWA marks this year’s World Refugee Day by bringing attention to the stories of refugees in its five fields of operation. The following story sheds light on the vulnerability of Palestine refugees displaced by the ongoing violence in Syria.

Amal is one of many Palestine refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict in Syria. The 38 year-old mother of four is exhausted physically and emotionally after she and her family left their home in Husseinieh for Sbeineh camp in Damascus, and finally to Jaramana in search of safety.

Deteriorating conditions

For Amal, being forced to leave her home was only the beginning of the worst. One month after arriving in Jaramana, her husband was killed by a mortar shell leaving behind four children, the youngest of whom is only 5-years-old.

“My life was turned upside down. I left behind my home and belongings. My family has nowhere else to live but in a tent where sackcloth curtains are the only items that provide us with a semblance of privacy,” Amal said in anguish.

Overcoming obstacles

Despite the difficult circumstances, Amal has begun anew: “We all face challenges in life, but can get through them if we try hard enough,” she said.

Amal is energetic and hardworking. She cares for her community and has much more on her plate than caring for her family alone. She is now volunteering as a teacher at the Rameh School in Jaramana outside of Damascus.

Her knowledge of mathematics, science, physics and other school subjects means she is a fantastic resource for the children. Before each exam, she gathers the students along with her own son, a third-grader, and tutors them to make up for lessons lost due to the conflict.

“The Palestinian passion for education is high even in these difficult times. People see education as the only way out. After my first class, the students were very enthusiastic and now huddle around me asking all sorts of questions to prepare for class.”

Educating a new generation

Amal was unable to complete university studies herself. She is keen on educating the next generation and is working now with the Rameh School’s shelter to conduct literacy and reading courses for adults and children.

“Month after month, the distance between our home and us grows larger, but we have not lost hope in eventually returning. Despite the suffering we have endured since 1948, Palestine refugees are extraordinarily resilient, patient and smiling. Educating people in the shelter is one way to overcome our sorrow.”

“The Rameh school collective shelter has provided me with the support and safety I need,” she said.

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