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When people are forced to flee their homes, they often abandon everything except what they need for the immediate future. And for children, that can mean abandoning a chance at education.
Salah Eldin Barakat is doing what he can to give it back to them. In a refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, he teaches the camp’s children and helps them learn how to deal with the stress and troubles of life as refugees.
Barakat, a refugee himself, was a school principal in Syria before he fled the country in 2012. He now works for the SAWA Association as a coordinator. His students were always greatly important to him, and they continue to be still. “I keep thinking how to take that child to safety and to a state of stability that would allow him to be a child like all other children,” he says.
It’s a needed responsibility. According to UNHCR, there are an estimated 21.3 million refugees — over half are under the age of 18 worldwide. Children fleeing violence or unrest have only limited access to education: Only 50% of refugee children are enrolled in primary education, and only 25% are in secondary school. However, the ability to access schooling can make or break a child’s — or a community’s — future.
Barakat hopes to be able to give the children of the refugee camps back their childhood. “Childhood, the more we talk about it, it’s a greater value,” he says.
Watch Salah Eldin Barakat’s story above. 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.
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