Friday March 4, 2016

When the choice is education or food

Amena lives in a tent in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Most children her age are learning their times tables, testing scientific theories and writing stories.

Amena, at eight years old, has never been to school.

She said: “My father used to tell me that being a teacher was the best thing I could be.

“He used to encourage and motivate me. From the age of five, I knew what I would be when I grew up. Now he is dead, but I will never forget his words.”

Amena’s father and eldest brother were killed in Syria while buying food. Amena’s mother took her family and fled. They walked to Lebanon, searching abandoned homes for food when they were hungry.

Three years on, Amena and her family still struggle for food. As refugees, they are not allowed to work so depend on food from charities like Islamic Relief, which is working extensively in Lebanon.

“My mom says education is not a priority, because food and good health will keep us alive but education will not feed us,” said Amena.

“My father taught me to read and write, and he didn’t go to school. Even if I don’t go to school I will still teach. My dream is to go back to Syria. I’ll teach children who don’t know how to read or write.”

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