Tabarak is a 16-year-old Syrian refugee who lives in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.
Tabarak is one of about 25 million refugees in the world, more than half of whom are under the age of 18, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Her teenage years are unfolding in the limbo of a refugee camp — a settlement that is inherently meant to be an in-between place, not one where you can expect to build a life or a future — and in the backdrop of a conflict that forced her family to flee from Syria.
Za’atari was established in 2012 and contains an entire ecosystem within the few square miles it occupies. There are 31 schools that educate about 21,000 children; about 3,000 shops, many of them along a main street called Champs-Elysees, named after the famous boulevard in Paris, which is home to everything from a wedding dress shop to cafes; and even a newspaper by and for the residents of Za’atari.
I opened my eyes from deep sleep. I did my morning routine — drinking my cup of milk, eating three pieces of date — and I prepared myself and went to school.I’m always optimist and ready for classes. I had math in morning, two English classes and Arabic class. The classes were just like they always are. I’m always so invested in listening to the teacher because their words are my gate to the future!
After I finished my classes I hung out with my classmates where we laughed and had fun. The school is not far away from my home, 10 minutes walking.
You can’t imagine how many people I meet on the road every day.
The thing that gets to me the most is when I see someone who has been handicapped due to the war. Today I got distressed when I saw a young man who lost his leg in the war. Physically he lost his leg, but he had to deal with his broken heart as well.
Oh, how I really hate the war.
I woke up in the early morning, and today is the day that my mom is meeting with UNICEF! Mom is working as an assistant teacher in the Saudi school. She is working in the management. I ate my breakfast, and me and Mom went to the school.Math was the first class of the day and after that I had English.After, I went home. I heard the news that everyone was talking about, which was that all the Syrian teachers working in the camp schools will need to be laid off. I was so upset. My mom is the only one working in our family. She is the one providing for our family and she was upset because she’s working so hard.
After the call to prayer, I ate my lunch and got some rest. I just heard a teacher telling my mother that the termination has been canceled and they can go to work again as usual. Thank God!
I am hearing a big noise. Someone is screaming! Oh God!! It’s a huge fire!
We were looking at a heavy smoke covering all the Za’atari camp’s sky. People were running everywhere firetrucks were finally able to put the fire out. The fire was huge and out of control but thank God, there were no human losses. The fire only damaged materials! At night I studied and then I went to bed. At the end, thank God for everything.
It’s a very beautiful day because it’s my best friend’s birthday so we decided to surprise her. I woke up early, then I went to school. On the road I met my friends, and we bought a cake with her name on it and also some snacks and beverages. Then we decorated the room and when she entered, she was very surprised and we made an awesome party.
When the teacher came, it was back to Arabic class, then math, then English. I went home feeling so happy. I ate, then I slept for an hour, then I studied, and I told my family about the party and how great it was. My mom suggested that we go visit her friend, so we went and enjoyed the night there. Then I went home and slept safely!
A short documentary created by girls in Za’atari (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
A wedding dress in Za’atari (The New Yorker)
Refuge: Voices of Syrian Refugees (Washington Post)