Over 14.7 km of land, thousands of Syrian children like six-year-old Zaid* are building their future and learning in Al Azraq Refugee Camp. With 25 live births every week, strengthening the education system became one of the heavily nurtured sectors in the camp. Thankfully, increased awareness among parents and the implementation of 34 education projects by ten organisations led to a noticeable increase in the number of children enrolled in school. As of 2021, they reached almost 20,000 Syrian children.
Zaid* is one of these children. He was born in Al Azraq camp and lives with his mother, father and three siblings in one of the shelters found at the camp. Currently, he enjoys the peaceful and safe environment in Al Azraq Camp and is sheltered by his mother's love and father's encouragement. But that did not come without a price. Almost eight years ago, his resilient mother endured a frightful refugee journey just to see another day. After seeing an endless trail of bombs raiding her home, she decided nothing is left for her to stay. "We left Western Syria, and after multiple internal displacement stops, we settled in a refugee camp near the Jordanian-Syrian border," shares the mother. Immediately after a while, she noticed the camp's dire situation, and it became evident it was not suitable for her to stay. Feeling hopeful, she did not let this journey break her, so she kept moving forward, "the only thing that kept us going was our faith; we left and marched down this road not knowing where it leads us," she tells. That is when the mother reached Jordan and later settled in the camp, met Zaid's father and created a family of her own.
When Zaid was born, the parents did everything in their power to raise him in a well-rounded environment where voicing his opinion is always welcomed and sharing new ideas is encouraged. This open way of communication helped shape his confident and outspoken character.
Knowing her child's potential, the mother decided to enrol him in World Vision Early Childhood Development Centre at the camp after hearing from a friend about it. "I then came to see the centre for myself... and I saw how great the teaching was, so I enrolled him," she mentions. Soon after, it was Zaid's first day in school. He got dressed and marched excitingly to the centre.
Outspoken Zaid was a little shy during his first couple of days, and he was a little hesitant to socialise with his new classmates. But with the teacher's support and encouragement, he was able to adapt to the environment around him, quickly starting his social life and education. "He is one of the brightest students here," says one of Zaid's teachers. That is when his true potential began to shine. Zaid began to come out of his shell, meet new people, introduce himself to visitors arriving at the centre and most importantly, catch up with education. "He knows the numbers, letters in both English and Arabic, basic math and has a creative, analytical mind," shares the mother. Despite his young age, Zaid can write simple names and words, "I can write your name, see?" Zaid proving he could write the name of one person in the room.
The centre was the place where Zaid was able to polish his communication skills and big personality. Through the interactive classes and encouraging teachers, he was not "afraid to express himself nor his values," shares the kindergarten headmaster. Zaid shares what's on his mind and takes what he learns from the centre, and further develops it at home. For example, he learned about recycling the other day and immediately went home to explain the importance of waste management to his family member by leading by example. His mother shares, "onetime I saw him playing with a tin can, he mentioned that we can recycle this and make it as a piggy bank," she continues. That is not a coincidence for Zaid, on that day, they had learned about recycling, so he started to look around the house for things to upcycle, reuse and recycle.
Zaid is one of the 5,447 children who pursued their education journey and developed their personality at World Vision's Early Childhood Education Centre. Thanks to the commitment of 13 teachers over the past six years and funds from our colleagues in Hongkong and Korea, Zaid graduated from Childhood Education Centre back in August 2022 with 300 other children. The young boy could not contain his excitement, eagerly waiting to wear the graduation gown and hat, ushering his beginning to a new future.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.