THE BLOG
09/29/2015 01:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Child Teachers

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Photo: Tabitha Ross/A World at School

Ahmad is 14, with his huge grin and his striking green eyes is a bright and confident child who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, partly because he loves maths, and partly because he wants to help rebuild Syria. He left school when his family came to Lebanon a year ago.

When he's not working in a $1 store (he sometimes works from 9am to 9pm), he teaches his younger sister Mayas her alphabet, and helps with his other little brother and sister. Ahmad, his sister Mayas, their older brother, two younger siblings, and their parents are all living in two rooms in the Saida region of Lebanon having fled Al-Joubar near Damascus.

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Photo: Tabitha Ross/A World at School

Ahmad has this to say:

"I miss everything about Syria, it's my country. I miss going to the mosque on Fridays, I miss going to play and swim in the river. I went to school in Syria and here I don't go any more. I can't go because I have to work because my family doesn't have enough money. I was working in a petrol station, washing cars and filling them up with petrol. Now I'm working in a $1 store. I prefer this job because the petrol station was hard work and very hot, and at the store I get to talk to the customers and I get to sit down sometimes, but the wages are lower.

"I want to be an engineer when I grow up because I want to help rebuild Syria when the war is over. I want to thank you people around the world a lot, for caring about children who can't go to school, and to tell you that I really want to go to school like I used to."

Mayas is 12, she only completed grade two in Syria, leaving school before she was eight years old because when the conflict started soldiers began turning up at her school and her parents feared for her safety. Mayas has now missed more than four years of education, and didn't know how to read or write until her brother Ahmad started teaching her a few months ago. She's a lively and polite little girl with green eyes like her brother, the bond between them is clearly very close.

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Photo: Tabitha Ross/A World at School

Mayas has this to say:

"Sometimes I play a game with my brother where we choose a letter and then we have to write down an animal, a person and a place beginning with it. It's fun and it's good for practicing letters and writing. I was very sad when I left school, and I'm still sad because I'm only just learning a bit of reading and writing now.

"Three months ago I didn't know how to read or write at all, then someone told my brother Ahmad he should teach me what he knows. I still can't really read, but I've started. And when I can do it well, I will also teach my little brother and sister. When I grow up I want to be a teacher so that other children can learn. If I could go to school I could get a good job and then I could help my family. I want to go to school and I hope that all children around the world get the chance to study."