Refugee barber pursues dream despite odds

19 April 2013

The clothes lining a small makeshift barber shop are the closet 17-year-old Mohammad will get to festive decorations in the Tireh School in Dummar, which he now calls home. 

Mohammad is one of thousands of Palestine refugees who fled al-Taddamun neighbourhood around Yarmouk in Syria when the fighting escalated there last December. He took refuge in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Tireh Girls’ School in Dummar, which the Agency has converted into a shelter for internally displaced people (IDPs). 
Mohammad recalls witnessing a great deal of suffering during the violence, causing him great distress. Once at the shelter, things began to change for the better. Mohammad registered as an IDP and was given a mattress and a blanket.  

“I am now starting a new life"

"After spending a few months in the Tireh shelter, I am now starting a new life", Mohammad says. “I know it will be difficult, but I am content. I have a barber apprenticeship, and will do my best to help my community”, he added.
Mohammad set up a barber shop in a small space in the courtyard of the school, and often provides his services free of charge because he knows that many in the shelter cannot afford a haircut. 
"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my community, and thankful to the school principal who bought the essential tools for me", Mohammad said.

Customer satisfaction 

Mohammad‘s customers describe him as “honest”, “cheerful”, and a “skilled” barber. 
Expressing his satisfaction, one customer said: “I told him I completely trust you with my hair. Do anything you want with it. I got an amazing haircut and I get the sense that he cares about his work.” 
“All my family members have become regular customers. He is friendly and is always ready to help others”, remarked another customer.

A home away from home 

Although Mohammad looks forward for the day when he can go back home, he is grateful for the assistance he continues to receive from UNRWA.
“I would like to thank everyone at UNRWA for their tireless efforts in providing us with our basic needs and in mitigating our suffering,” smiling he said. 
UNRWA has been helping Palestine refugees relocate to recently opened shelters. It estimates that close to 8000 are currently sheltering in its facilities throughout Syria.
Support UNRWA’s emergency response in and around Syria.


Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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