|Muzoon in Zaatari camp, Jordan|
Muzoon Almellehan - 16 years old Syrian refugee
Muzoon, 16 years old, is from Derra, Syria. She came with her parents, two brothers and a younger sister to Zaatari refugee camp a little over two years ago. Along with her mother, I met this inspiring young woman during her first visit to the International Rescue Committee back in March. She was there looking for a vocational training program for her mother.
Enthusiastic, with a very positive outlook on life, she learned at a very young age that education is an important driving force for a successful life. Before the civil war, Muzoon was attending school in Syria where she was also learning English.
Unfortunately like many others, her entire family was forced to leave Syria as a consequence of the on-going civil war, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people thus so far. Determined to continue her education Muzoon is attending one of the schools run by UNICEF at Zaatari camp. Her unfailing desire for an education, natural talents, and sheer willpower to overcome the harsh reality of life in a refugee camp immediately gained the attention of many. Consequently, Muzoon was appointed UN Ambassador for Education in Zaatari refugee camp. She is working with UNICEF to raise awareness about the need for attending school.
As of now there are three schools operating double shifts. With a total of 20,608 registered students, girls attend the morning shift and boys the afternoon shift. Zaatari, with a population of 150,000 refugees, 50% are children.
One of the challenges for refugee camp students is school attendance. To aid their families, children are often expected to help their families and thus work; child labor and family responsibilities hit boys particularly hard. Also, since most of the refugees in Zaatari come from poor villages in the south of Syria, a large number of children have never attended school before.
Muzoon is synonymous for resilience. She believes her people should not be afraid of their present circumstances and hardships, but think of the future and how they are going to rebuild the country once they are back in their homeland. “We have to be strong and not feel defeated”, she adds.
Unlikely other refugees from Zaatari, Muzoon thinks “life hasn’t stopped. We all should think of our lives here and now. We should stop the blame and concentrate on education”.
With the conflict going on its 4th year and with no signs of an agreement between the opposition and the Assad regime, more refugees are arriving everyday at the Zaatari camp. For Muzoon the UNHCR should be focusing their efforts on education because for her it is the key to solving Syria’s problems.
A 16-year-old Syrian refugee who wants to become a journalist Muzoon is trying to change lives in her community no matter what.