A Schoolgirl’s World In Zaatari Refugee Camp
Meet Alaa, six years old, one of over 100,000 Syrian refugees living in al Zaatari camp in northern Jordan.
This is where Alaa lives – one of the thousands of tents that provide accommodation to refugees in Zaatari camp. It’s in the first area of the camp to be settled, because Alaa’s family came 9 months ago, not long after the camp was built.
This is Alaa’s mother, Manal, and her father, Mustafa. Manal was a teacher and Mustafa had an internet café in Homs before the war. The family fled nine months ago when fighting intensified and they started hearing stories of children being kidnapped and maltreated.
Alaa (left), her mother, and her sister Asmaa. Mother Manal says they fled Homs with two suitcases and clothes for 10 days. Her main regret is leaving behind Alaa’s favourite toy, a doll that she used to dress and give baths.
Manal cooks as best she can in tent’s kitchen area, using the food supplies provided by WFP along with a few other items, such as coffee, that she manages to find in Zaatari camp. Her home in Homs had a very well equipped kitchen, she says.
There are two schools in Zaatari camp. Alaa and her sister come to this one, which is run by WFP’s partner agency Unicef. WFP provides snacks for children who come to class.
Alaa is in 1st grade and seems to have settled in well since starting at the camp school in October last year, when the classes were in tents. Although she doesn’t have her old friends from Homs, Alaa has made new friends at the school.
At about 11.30, just as the class’s concentration starts to waver and stomachs begin rumbling, children are given a nutritious snack. It’s a date bar, fortified with vitamins and minerals, supplied by WFP.
Most children eat their date bars immediately. But Alaa likes to take hers home, to eat in the early afternoon with her mother.
Alaa’s parents are keen to ensure their daughter’s education doesn’t suffer as a result of them being refugees. School is also important in the camp because it helps create a sense of normality, a feeling that life carries on.
90 minutes later, back home in her family’s tent, Alaa eats her snack, while her mother adjusts her ponytail and tells her what happened today.
Alaa is one of around 5,000 children who receive WFP snacks in school every day in Zaatari. Funding permitting, the plan is to expand the programme further by the end of the year. Donate now!