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Syrian refugee, Rahma, 10, finds hope and purpose in art

"I draw strong
women because
I want to be just
like them,"

-Rahma, 10                             

Syrian refugee child draws strong women in her home in refugee camp in Jordan while she dreams of a different future

Think back to when you were 10 years old. What was life like for you then? School, family, friends, hobbies? Probably not an entire lifetime defined by war and hearing stories of a homeland you can no longer remember, or even imagine.

Ten-year-old refugee, Rahma and her family were forced to flee Syria in 2013. They first lived in Zaatari Refugee Camp before moving on to Irbid, Jordan. While her short life has been defined by so much hardship, Rahma has found a way to express herself through her greatest passion – drawing.

Her huge, soulful eyes light up and sparkle when she gets to talk about her love for drawing. Her walls are plastered with her creations… most of them faces. Faces of friends and family. They belong to the strong and caring women Rahma aspires to be just like when she grows up.

For all that she has lived through, Rahma still finds inspiration all around her, and drawing is her way to express that. “When I draw... It lets me show my personality,” she explains. Art is an outlet for her creativity, but also an escape from a childhood that has witnessed war and displacement for all of her young life.

When asked what she wants to become later in life, she says, with all the self-confidence in the world, “A doctor. A doctor and an artist.”

Thanks to a local World Vision project, Rahma and her siblings are supported through the remote education programme where they learn Arabic, English and math. There are also online activities for kids to participate in with classes focused on: drawing to drama, reading and sports.

When her teachers spotted her talent, World Vision supplied her with the necessary tools and paint she needs to develop her skills. “What helps me is that when the teachers draw, they would give us a better idea on how to draw and they teach us many more things.” They also encourage her to share her art works in the drawing competition group.

Rahma’s mother, Ibtihal is proud of her talented daughter and supports her in any way she can. These past seven years have been hard. Syrians are not allowed to work freely, so Rahma’s father has been unable to support his family.

Knowing how drawing makes Rahma happy and focused, Ibtihal encourages her daughter to excel in her art. She also sees her younger self in her daughter… and her own dreams she was forced to abandon. “She reminds me of something I wanted to achieve but couldn’t. So I want her to achieve it. I wanted to become someone with a purpose, but life conditions didn’t allow that.”

Rahma finds the positive in every situation. Not even the pandemic can stop her ambitions. “COVID-19 stopped us from going to schools. We no longer go out like we used to. We stopped going to the park and playing outside. During lockdown, drawing helped me to develop and enhance my talent and I made my drawing look better.” She even teaches her siblings how to draw.

What would Rahma do if she were President of the whole world for one day? "I would end war and fighting and also try to make the world better.” She also dreams to have her portraits exhibited one day--a dream her mother is certain will come true.

World Vision has been responding to the needs of Syrian refugees since 2011.

See how our programmes are keeping the dreams of children like Rahma alive and providing for their urgent needs.

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