Behind the Headlines

This Syrian Teenager Is An Aspiring Designer — & A Refugee

Like many teenagers, Halema Al-Hasan dreams of what she will do after she finally finishes school.

But what distinguishes her from other 17-year-olds is that she is a young woman living in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Three years ago, the Syrian teen and her family relocated to Iaat Refugee camp in Bekaa Valley, running away from the nation's conflict.

"Troubles started there, so we moved to this place," Al-Hasan says.

Sadly, the economic restraint has meant she is not going to school. But, two years ago, she took up sewing and became a seamstress. Her old sewing machine and stencils can be seen in one of the rooms of the tent she shares with her parents and seven siblings.

Her first client was her cousin. Now, Al-Hasan helps out her family in any way she can. With a sunny disposition, she says she wants to help because she understands that her family sometimes goes without work for days on end.

“It is a hard life,” her mom says about their current situation. But she’s also grateful her daughter has taken it upon herself to help out.

Al-Hasan says that if she ever goes back to Syria, she would finish her studies.

And after that?

“I’d like to be a fashion designer,” she says.

Refinery29 is committed to covering the women behind the headlines of the Syrian refugee crisis
and working in partnership with The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Read the full multimedia feature, "Behind the Headlines: Daughters of Paradise," here. More coverage on the human faces of the world's refugee crisis can be found here.

About Behind the Headlines

Executive producer America Ferrera, in partnership with Refinery29, brings to light four powerful stories of what it’s like to be an immigrant in the US right now. This multimedia experience made up of video, editorial, and high-impact imagery — dedicated to humanizing the conversation around immigration.

Released on June 20, 2016