11 year old Hamze works at the Grand Bazaar in Bursa as a waiting-boy and as an interpreter. After four years in Turkey he speaks Turkish fluently. He was only six when he fled Syria with his mother and younger siblings. Before leaving Aleppo, he had attended school for a couple of months but after that, he never had the chance to go to school again. Going back to school is the biggest dream of the smart boy. But he can’t read and write – neither in Arabic nor in Turkish. For a long time, circumstances prevented him from going to school in Turkey. Now it is already too late: he can’t join the fifth grade with his peers as he can’t read or write, nor can he join the first grade as he is too old.
Hiba is 14 years old and lives in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon even though she is not Palestinian. Her parents earn money as casual workers to pay the rent for their one room apartment while Hiba and her siblings sell tissues, ball pens and sweets in the street to make ends meet. Actually, it is rather begging than working. The next school is just around the corner but Hiba has no hope of ever being permitted to school. In Syria, she was one of the best pupils in her class but the school systems are too different. In Lebanon, sciences are taught in English starting in 5th grade. Hiba’s English is far too poor to cope with that, and the longer she stays out of school the bigger the gap gets. Back in Damascus, Hiba dreamt of becoming a doctor. Now she fears the day her parents will suggest she gets married so she is taken care of.
Ahmad shares a tent in rural Idlib with his mother and his five siblings. In 2013, he was in 8th grade and wanted to become an engineer. Then, he had to flee Homs and since has not had the chance to rejoin school. His father has gone missing during the fighting. Ahmad tries to help his family as much as he can by doing every job he can get. However, the family would not get by without food aid. His mother is afraid he might join one of the jihadi groups just to earn more money and help his family. “Ahmad needs a perspective, the chance to get an education, a glimmer of hope … but there is nothing here.”