Press release – Syrian refugee children in Turkey document their lives on film (October 11, 2017)

Syrian refugee children document their lives on film for six months - highlighting the danger and exploitation they face because they're not in school.


Education in emergencies continues to be neglected globally, despite world leaders pledging there would be ‘No Lost Generation’ of children as a result of the Syrian crisis.

As part of Theirworld’s #YouPromised campaign, the charity provided video cameras to four
Syrian refugee children who have not been to school since the start of the war, to document
their daily lives over six months and highlight why urgent action is needed.

Through four powerful short films Asmah, Rojeen, Mustafah and Bassam, aged between 12
and 16, share the reality of their lives as refugee children living in Turkey. 

They highlight the
injustice and dangers that can arise, including early marriage, teenage pregnancy, child
labour and exploitation, when world leaders break their promises to children in crisis
situations and kept out of education.

Sarah Brown, President of Theirworld, said the films were extremely moving and clearly
highlighted the dangers faced by children when access to education and a safe place to
learn is taken away.

She said: “We can see from these films that the lack of access to education for children in
crisis has had very serious ramifications on their lives. World leaders made a commitment to
ensure children would not miss out on education due to the Syria crisis. However, this
promise has not been upheld, with nearly two million children still out of school.”

The first in the series launching today on International Day of the Girl Child, follows young
mother Asmah , who married at 12 and is now 15. Asmah has two children and is unable to
attend school and fulfil her dream of being an art teacher. Asmah suffers from post-traumatic
stress and often struggles to cope with the pressures of marrying early and taking care of
her toddler and newborn, keeping them safe in an unfamiliar city. She hopes one day to
return to education.

Next is Bassam , a 14-year-old Syrian refugee from Idlib. His father took the risky journey to
Europe and is now settled in Vienna. Bassam stayed in Turkey with his mother and siblings,
not seeing his father for two and a half years. Bassam dropped out of school when fleeing
Syria, and has been unable to re-enroll in Turkey. Instead he tends to his family’s daily
needs. The documentary follows Bassam’s journey to Vienna to be reunited with his father
and return to education.

12-year-old Mustafa tells his story of life as a Syrian refugee in the small town of Reyhanli.
Mustafa works by collecting scrap to sell. He is very ashamed of his work and leaves home at 10pm to avoid being seen, making only £4 to $5.50 a day and leaving no time for

Syrian-Kurdish girl Rojin is 16, she fled Kobane to live in an informal settlement with other
refugees in Turkey. The makeshift camps in the middle of nowhere have no electricity or
proper washing facilities. In Syria, Rojin says she had a wonderful life, she went to school
and won awards for being the best student. Life is now tough – she works very long hours,
seven days a week in the nearby farm with the rest of her siblings and has to help her family
in the evening. Rojin dreams of continuing her education and becoming a lawyer.

Theirworld has been working in the region to support Syrian refugees return to education
since 2012. Theirworld works with local partners to teach Syrian refugees Turkish in order to
improve the quality of their learning in public schools. Theirworld also works with local
teachers to train them how to best support children who have experienced trauma as a result
of the conflict.


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Notes to Editors:

  • About #YouPromised: In early 2016, a promise was made to 1.7 million Syrian refugee children. World leaders pledged that their futures wouldn’t be abandoned.
    They promised the money to send all those children to school. It’s the kind of promise
    you don’t break. Nearly a year later, we have much to be proud of. More than half of
    all Syrian refugee children are being given an education – and a future. For many of
    them, that day in February was life-changing. But we can’t celebrate just yet. Close to
    half a million children are still waiting for that promise to be kept, because not all of
    the money has been handed over to make it happen. They are waiting and their
    futures are waiting.
  • About Theirworld: a children’s charity that believes all children everywhere deserve
    the best start in life. We work for a future where all children are born safely, have a
    quality education and the chance to change the world.