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

School Healing the Scars of War


Photo: Tabitha Ross/A World at School

Heba is quiet and reserved, yet fully composed. Like many Syrian children, her school story is one of constant breaks and interruptions. She missed out on eight months of education entirely when her family fled Daraa, the town they lived in, for their family's village in another area of Syria - a terrifying period in which Heba lived through regular bombing attacks and saw her neighbours' house destroyed with them inside it. After this frightening incident, the family moved again, to Lebanon, where her father struggled to find a school for Heba and her six siblings, as he could not afford the cost of private education and government schools had been told to prioritise Lebanese students over Syrian. She went to an informal education centre for a year until finally with the introduction of the double shift system Heba was able to get a place in a public school. She waste of the children involved in the pilot of the double shift and is now settled and doing well.

She has the air of wanting to put the hard times behind her and get on with her education. School is healing the scars of war.


Photo: Tabitha Ross/A World at School

Heba has this to say:

"I didn't know we were going to leave Daraa. My parents woke us at one in the morning, and told us to pack and leave. We left at 5am. On the road out of town a soldier stopped us and asked us if we are leaving, he was someone we knew, he was good to us and let us go. We went to our family village, in the countryside in another part of Syria.

"We stayed eight months there, in our family house, next door to my uncle's house. There was bombing there and lots of aeroplanes flying round the house. Now both of those houses are destroyed. Two weeks before we left Hama, a huge bomb hit our neighbour's house. There were no ambulances. Everyone was trying to dig the people out. I saw people with no hands. My dad was scared that we would be hurt, so we came to Lebanon.

"I hadn't been to school since I left Daraa. I felt sad because I wasn't learning. Of course I was thinking about school and how to get back there. I felt all my dreams are gone.

"Once we got to Lebanon my dad tried to register us in school again. But he couldn't find a Lebanese school to take us. I went to a UN centre for a year, then the public school opened for Syrian students. The principal called my mum and said to come and bring us back to school. We couldn't believe it. We started shouting in the house and running round and round my mum.

"The first day back I was so happy to know I would be in this school. I'm excited about the new term. I want to finish year six and go into year seven.

"I used to want to be a hairdresser but when the war began in Syria and I saw lots of wounded people, I decided I wanted to become a doctor in order to help them."