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They Walk Across No Man's Land, Into the Life of a Refugee

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Yesterday, we witnessed hundreds of refugees cross the border from Syria into Jordan.

What does it mean to cross the border?

It means you walk across miles of barren desert on foot. You have no possessions Maybe a blanket, or maybe your child's teddy bear whose name you can't remember.

You have no idea where you are going, you just know you have to get your children somewhere else, somewhere they might be safe. You aren't sure if there will be food there, but there might be.

It's just you and your children. Your men are fighting, or besieged or dead.

Everyone else, you have left behind. You hope they will join you.

Maybe it will be better on the other side. Just a little bit better.

It is the most haunting scene I have ever witnessed in my years of international development.

The violence is senseless, and the refugees are just hoping to survive.

One mother turns to me as I play with her three year old son, his eyes sparking green. "I gave him a bath this morning," she says apologetically, "but the desert was dirty." I am stunned. She may have left behind all of her possessions, but she carries all her dignity, and her will to survive.

We wipe away tears.

And though the enormity of the problem makes us feel small, we promise that we will not stand by silently.

We will act to protect these children and to demand that all people play their part to end the violence now.

This is what crossing the border looks like.

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This is the human face of the word 'refugee.'

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This post was originally published here by The Malala Fund on Feb. 17, 2014.