Syria’s Young Talent: the girl who loves Bollywood dancing

Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies

Hala Houssam al-Naisa shows her skills Pictures: Tabitha Ross

Without education, the potential of hundreds of thousands of talented young Syrian children risks being lost. That’s why we’re calling on the international community to ensure one million refugee children secure an education this year in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

A World at School launched the Hope for Syria’s Young Talent petition ahead of a crucial international Syria pledging conference in London on February 4. World leaders will meet to secure the $750 million needed to fund all the school places for refugee children.

Hope for Syria’s Young Talent shows there is a generation of young people who will not be able to fulfil their potential if they denied an education.

The talented children found for this campaign were discovered by Sonbola, an education initiative working to provide quality education and interactive learning for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon while investing in empowering and developing teaching skills of Syrian professionals. Visit Sonbola’s Facebook page.

In this series of articles, Beirut-based writer and photographer Tabitha Ross talks to some of those talented girls and boys about their hopes and dreams. You can read more about Syria’s Young Talent here.

Here we meet Hala Houssam al-Naisa, six, and her mother Maha al-Ali, 30.

HALA: I love Hindi dancing. I first saw it on TV and I wanted immediately to dance like those girls. They have long hair and pretty clothes. I watched them and I learned how to do it. 

No one else I know does Bollywood dancing – not my friends, not my sisters, just me.

I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I go to school. My favourite thing is reading books. I have lots of friends but we don’t play at school because there’s no playtime.

At home with my sisters we play lots of games. Up and down, hide and seek, or we draw and colour together.

My favourite foods are stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgettes and stuffed aubergines. I like the way my mum does them.

I don’t remember Syria.

MAHA: We’re from Homs, we’ve been here two years. Hala was only four when we left, so she’s forgotten it.

Life was good for us before the crisis. War impacted a lot on us, not a little. At the start of the conflict we were hoping that things would settle down but instead they got worse. 

In the end we had to leave because of the bombing. We were terrified something would happen to our children, so we decided it was better to come and live like this than stay there.

But it meant that the children lost a lot of time in school. They missed time in Syria when it wasn’t safe to go and then it took time to get them into school here.

Hala’s older sister should be in the 6th grade but they’ve put her in the 1st. A person without education is like a blind person.

When they were out of school the kids felt sad and angry. They saw other children reading and writing and they didn’t know how to do it and they felt jealous. I deployed all possible efforts to get them into school. 

I worked very hard last year to do it. I took them to many far places to find schools.

We hope to go back to Syria, to return to our home and our family there. All of our relatives are still there. 

I feel happy when Hala sings and dances because it makes her happy.

She started dancing to any music at two, then when she was four she discovered this Hindi dancing. 

She loves it, she learns all the Hindi words alone, by herself.

Sign the Hope For Syria’s Young Talent petition

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