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The dreams of a Syrian refugee family

More than 12.2 million Syrians are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance - 5.6 million are children.
More than 12.2 million Syrians are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance - 5.6 million are children.

The Syrian crisis has entered its fifth year claiming millions of lives and leaving hundreds of thousands desperate to escape. Some might wonder why someone would risk their life by illegally crossing the seas. Although the answers vary, the conditions on the land must be worse than the risks of the water. During these trips some make it to safety while others unfortunately don’t.

Meet 9-year-old Khulud who left Syria two years ago with her parents and seven siblings. The family lived in Idlib Governorate, one of the most destroyed cities in Syria now. The family decided to escape the violent situation after a rocket fell beside their home killing five young children.

“I was really terrified when the five children died on my doorstep. I couldn’t help imagining that they could have been my own children,” explains the Khulud’s mother, Ahlam.

The father, Mouhammed, decided it was best to leave Idlib and find a village where they can live away from the violence. The family of ten moved by foot between villages for an entire year. 

“When we first got out it was winter and we didn’t have a lot of clothes. My wife and children were so cold that they cried. There were some nights that we thought the cold was going to kill us before the war,” says Mouhammad.

The family starved for weeks spending their nights sleeping under the trees and days walking among the empty barren roads where there were no people, shops or houses. Mouhammed explains that they would eat grass and leaves to survive, and some days had no food at all.

Child in Aleppo
A boy walking through destroyed streets in north Aleppo, Syria

Life in Lebanon

The family made the trek over to Lebanon, a neighbouring country where thousands of other Syrians have decided to take refuge. Mouhammed explains that he intended to only spend a few months in Lebanon working before returning back to Syria. However they have been in Lebanon for over two years.

The family now lives in a small village in Lebanon. Their home is teetering on the brink of collapse. Inside, there are no doors, windows or running water. The government has imposed strict criteria on Syrians who wish to stay in Lebanon. Mouhammad has not be able to get legal permission for his family to stay and as a result cannot register any of his children in school.

“It’s my dream to know how to write my name. I wish somebody could teach me how to hold a pen,” says Khulud.

“It kills me when my daughter says that, and whenever I think that I can’t afford sending her to school here, I cry. We used to have a school just beside our house in Syria and it was free,” says Ahlam.

SOS Children is working to protect child refugees like Khulud and her family. Since August 2012, SOS Children has helped over 100,000 people affected by the war in Syria.