WORLD REFUGEE DAY | IN AN INSTANT
“We were in our village when the missiles and bombs hit. All of the houses were destroyed,”
says 13-year-old Shaima. She is haunted by memories of people screaming in her neighborhood.
After a bomb explosion at the back of their school, Shaima and her sister were too scared to enter their classroom. Even though their school was still standing, it was far too dangerous to attend.
Shaima watched as her friends and neighbours fled to Jordan for safety and a better life.
Roughly 5.6 million Syrians have fled their country as refugees.
Shaima’s family stayed in town as long as they could but had to flee when the situation deteriorated and fears for their safety grew. Within a few hours, she quickly packed what was most important to her; some clothes, her favourite book, and a handful of photographs.
Shaima and her family decided to walk 72-kilometers from Syria to Jordan.
Along the way, they had to walk under the scorching sun with no protection. Due the extreme heat and lack of water, Shaima’s sister suffered from sunstroke and passed away.
“I don’t feel I can talk to my mother about my sister’s death because she’s grieving for my sister a lot. I don’t like to see tears on her face. I felt sad. Our family was very close, and suddenly, we were torn apart,” says Shaima.
Shaima and her family are struggling to rebuild their lives at the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan.
“I wish I could turn back time but there is nothing I could do,” says Shaima.
Initially, she was scared of meeting new people in a strange new place, but the families around her had fled the same conflict.
Shaima slowly started making friends, and with each other’s support, her family began to heal.
In the camp, Shaima is able to go to school, get access to drinking water, and participate in extracurricular activities. “I wake up at five or six in the morning. I bring a pan full of water inside. I would heat the water because it is very cold from outside. Then, I check my homework before I go to school. I like school a lot because I get to learn a lot of different things,” says Shaima.