‘When we grow up we want to be…’ drawings by Syrian refugee children

Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies


If a picture tells a thousand words, how many can a child’s drawing convey? Especially when they show the hopes and dreams of refugee children driven out of their own country by war.

These poignant pictures show what Syrian girls and boys living in Lebanon want to be when they grow up. Addelsalam, aged 10, drew himself as an astronaut and wrote: “I would like to discover space and I love looking at the stars.

“I dream of floating between them and I am ready to study very hard in order to achieve my goal. My mum told me I that I should be serious in my studies.”

Along with thousands of other hand-drawn and hand-printed messages from refugee children, the drawings were delivered to London ahead of last week’s Supporting Syria and the Region pledging conference as a message to world leaders.

Thankfully, the international community listened and agreed to donate enough money to pay for one million Syrian children to go to school in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives hand-printed messages from Syrian refugee children, with A World at School Global Youth Ambassador Soulayma Mardam, right, and Avaaz campaigner Fatima Ibrahim

Theirworld, the parent charity of A World at School, asked refugee children to send messages and handprints to world leaders. The educational initiative Sonbola thought it would be a great idea to ask children to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up – as part of an art class at a learning centre which it runs in the Bekaa Valley.

Sonbola works to provide quality education and interactive learning for Syrian refugee children in Bekaa while investing in empowering and developing teaching skills of Syrian professionals. Learn more about Sonbola here.

The messages were delivered by Syrian activist Soulayma Mardam – one of A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors – as part of the Hope for Syria’s Young Talent petition. Tens of thousands of people have signed the petition since the launch of a new video called Straight Outta Syria last month. 

Here is a selection of the drawings by refugee children.

Aya, 13, lawyer

“I would like to become a lawyer in order to defend all the people who are oppressed and sent to jail when they’re not guilty. I will study hard to fulfil my dream.”

Waad, 10, teacher

“i would like to become a math teacher in order to help children who have been deprived of an education during the Syria crisis. I am going to study very hard to achieve my dream.”

Raghad, 13, painter

“My dream is to become a painter in order to paint my country Syria in beautiful colours.”

Fadi, 12, computer engineer

“My dream for the future is to become a computer engineer in order to teach children the same way I have been taught. I would like to thank Sonbola for providing me with the opportunity to learn how to use computers. I will study hard to fulfil my dream.”

Wlaam, 12, doctor

“I would like to become a doctor in order to cure sick people. Education is the only tool for me to realise my dream.”

Abdelsalam, 12, footballer

Drawings by Syrian refugee children - footballer

“I would like to become a soccer player and play with my friend Abdullah. And I will put in effort to realise my dream. I also want to continue my studies, despite the circumstances we are in.”

14-year-old, dentist

“i hope to realise my dream and become a dentist. I dreamt of doing this since I was a little girl.’

14-year-old, fashion designer

“I would like to become a fashion designer as i have always been attracted to fashion. I would like to study seriously and realise my dream.”

11-year-old, architect

“When I go back to Syria, I would like to be an architect and help build houses.”

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