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Refugee Family Spotlight: Leaving Syria, Kareena lost her education.

by Tyler Graf | Mar 31, 2017

Kareena-refugee

Kareena lost her education when her family fled Syria. She holds onto the hope that she'll be able to finish her degree someday. Your support provides medical care for her family, especially her aging father. 

Every refugee’s story is different. Tune in for the next few months for a focused look into what being refugees has been like for one Syrian refugee family. We provide medical care at their settlement. We’ll be sharing the unique story of each family member – revealing what it’s like to be a mother, father, son or daughter in a refugee settlement. Join us to hear their stories, fears, and hopes about their future.

Before the Syrian war, Kareena’s biggest worry was failing an exam.

She lost her education when she fled Syria, and with it an investment in her future.

Life was simple for Kareena, who studied information technology at a university in Homs. She was surrounded by friends and family, spending time with them when not studying. “I had a regular life in Syria,” Kareena said. “I hoped to finish my studies.”

But one year into her studies, war broke out. Kareena was just 20 years old when news of the fighting circulated in her community. First, there were rumors – civil unrest had spawned murders and kidnappings. Then the bombings began in nearby towns, proving the rumors correct.

Trips to the university were perilous, Kareena says. She had to take multiple taxis to ensure no one was targeting her. This was a serious concern because of the high number of abductions that were taking place at the time. While she and her friends were never targeted, others weren’t so lucky. Many university students lost their lives simply because they sought an education.

Life in Homs had become treacherous. There were kidnappings and murders. Dead bodies were even discovered at the university Kareena attended. Kareena’s family was forced to make a difficult choice – leave everything behind or stay and die.

By leaving Syria, Kareena gave up her education.

Five years after the start of the war, Kareena sees how it will affect future generations. “There are (many kids) who are not able to study,” she said. “Many children are being born in the camp, so they are not educated. Forty percent of the kids here are not going to school.”

Kareena’s parents are firmly committed to her finishing her education. This commitment inspires her dream: Someday returning to Syria to finish her degree.

One of Kareena’s top concerns is the lack of educational opportunities for young Syrian refugees.

“Many kids go to school for one year and then stop,” Kareena said. “Transportation is difficult and expensive. Some parents want their kids to work instead. It’s tradition in Syria that families take kids out of school at 10 years old for work.”

In Lebanon, Kareena cannot pursue her education. She works in a farm field six months out of the year, making $4 a day.

Having left her bright and normal life behind, Kareena, now 26, wonders what the future will bring. Among her peers, it’s curious that Kareena isn’t married. In Syria, teen marriages are the norm. Even more surprising is that Kareena’s parents are firmly committed to her finishing her education.

This commitment inspires her dream: Someday returning to Syria to finish her degree