ERBIL, Iraq, 1 November 2013 – Dima, 12, dreams of becoming a doctor. There are days, in Kawergosk refugee camp, when that ambition seems very far away.
The possibility to continue her education at a refugee camp for Syrians in northern Iraq is a bright spot of light for Dima, who holds on to her dreams of becoming a doctor.
“The situation is not very nice here. I would like to leave this place as soon as possible,” Dima says.
Dima and her family, who are part of the wave of refugees who have entered northern Iraq since the middle of August, face extra challenges. They don’t have enough food, and three of her siblings live with disabilities.
“They do not have medicine. We don’t have the money to support them,” she says.
Dima, an articulate and vivacious girl, says living in the camp makes her sad.
“I am crying every day. I am crying because I want to leave this place. I feel so bored.”
Her happy memories of her old life are the simple pleasures of childhood – friendship and fun.
“I used to have friends. We used to play and go to school together and have good times together,” she says.
UNICEF has established a tent school in Kawergosk, part of a wider initiative across Iraqi Kurdistan to meet the educational needs of 10,500 children in Grades 1 through 9. About 40 tents have been provided and equipped in the newly constructed camps.
There are more than 12,000 people in Kawergosk, and about half of those are children.
School in a tent began here in early October with about 1,500 children. UNICEF is working with its partner Peace Winds Japan to build a prefabricated school with 12 classrooms, which will accommodate another 1,100 students.
That means that children such as Dima can maintain a sense of normalcy after all the upheaval they’ve experienced, and begin to think about the future instead of the past.
“I want to go to school happy. And see my friends, so we can play together, talk and have fun together,” Dima says.
Story by Chris Niles