Jomaa, 12, has only one thing on his mind; “are you going to help me go back to school?” he asks.
He realizes that for him time is slipping away and with it his future. It’s been two years since he has been able to go to school. Two years since he has even been able to read anything or even pick up a pen.
“I miss writing and reading,” he says. “I am already forgetting. I left all of my books in [Syria].”
Instead of studying, Jomaa, his sisters: Baraa, 10, and Sherine, 8, and even his tiny 4-year-old brother, Saad, go to work each day. They help their parents stack concrete bricks for a meager $8 (USD) per hundred blocks stacked.
At the end of the day, they all fall into bed, exhausted, and sleep 12 or 13 hours a night. The young Saad rubs his eyes, which were a bright shade of pink. “The dust bothers them,” he says.