Being a fifth-year student in the Faculty of Medicine at Damascus, 23-year-old Shrouq Kassab is energetic and hardworking, hoping to become a surgeon one day. “I am now volunteering as a doctor in the Yalda district in Damascus once a month,” Shrouq explains enthusiastically, sitting on the floor of a room that she shares with five other families.
She uses a small corner of the cramped room to do her homework, making it challenging for her to fully concentrate on her studies. “The lack of privacy also raises tension among neighbours," Shrouq says. And yet, this young woman is determined to thrive in her studies. "Education will help me in achieving my future goals,” Shrouq says.
But the Syrian war has taken its toll on Shrouq and her family, who have been living in UNRWA Damascus Training Centre collective shelter since 2013 after being displaced multiple times. “We first left Mesraba in the eastern countryside of Damascus when the fighting escalated in January 2012,” says Shrouq. “All we brought to Yarmouk, where we lived for nine months, was some clothing, and some personal belongings. The rest is probably gone, destroyed when hundreds of homes in Mesraba were looted,” Shrouq adds with sadness.
Even though the ongoing conflict has caused her and her family to suffer immensely, it certainly did not dim Shrouq's enthusiasm and ambition to become a surgeon one day. "The severity of displacement and hardship taught us to be patient and resilient. We don't know what the future holds for us, but we are Palestinians whose passion for education is high even in these difficult times. I see education as the only way out." Shrouq says determinedly.