‘I don’t want to waste my chance here’: Syrian refugee Bassam, 14, films journey to be reunited with father in Austria

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14 year-old Bassam spent six months documenting his life as a refugee

Child marriage, Days in the childhood development calendar, Double-shift schools, Education Cannot Wait, Education in emergencies, Girls' education, Refugees and internally displaced people, Right to education, Sarah Brown, Theirworld

Bassam is one of four out-of-school refugee children living in Turkey who spent six months documenting their lives on video for Theirworld.

Bassam is 14. When his father travelled by boat to Europe two years ago, Bassam stayed behind with his mother and siblings. But eventually they too travelled to Turkey. He was unable to enroll in school there and instead helped look after his family. 

“When I see children going to school with their bags, I wished I could go to school in Turkey too,” he says.

Bassam is one of four Syrians who documented their daily lives to highlight why all refugee children should be in school.

World leaders promised last year there would be “No Lost Generation” of children as a result of the Syrian crisis.

Watch Bassam’s story

More than half of all Syrian refugee children in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are being given an education – and a future. But close to 500,000 children are still waiting for that promise to be kept. 

As part of Theirworld’s #YouPromised campaign, we provided video cameras to four Syrian refugee children aged 12 to 16 who are not getting an education in Turkey.

Their powerful short films highlight the injustice and dangers they face – including early marriage, teenage pregnancy, child labour and exploitation.

Theirworld President Sarah Brown 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.”

Bassam’s film is launched today, following the launch of Asmah’s story on International Day of the Girl Child. The other two films will be released throughout October.

Bassam and his family did not see their father for two and a half years after he made the risky journey to Europe by boat.  

However, Bassam’s father was able to get the necessary documents to bring his family to Austria. The journey to this emotional reunion is a key part of Bassam’s film.

Bassam, who is now back at school, says: “When I saw the ground of Austria and Europe, I felt my future ahead of me.”

“When I went back to school I was so happy as I hadn’t been to school in three years. I don’t want to waste my chance here.”

Theirworld has been working in the region since 2012 to support Syrian refugees’ return to education. 

We work 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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