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Syrian youth in their own words

Jordan, Syria, March 12, 2014

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Fatima Dabbagh, 3, arrived in Zaatari just 4 days ago. “I miss my home and my cat. I want to go back home. But I really like this place. It reminds me of my kindergarten. I like the sand. And my brother. He takes good care of me.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Razan Mahir Horani, 9, fled Syria 18 months ago. “I miss my home, friends and school. I’m afraid of the dogs here, and I don’t like the darkness. It gets really dark here at night. I like the playground because it reminds me of Syria. We had a nice playground in Syria. My time here is joyful and easy.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Tasneem Ammar Altamaki, 9, fled Syria 14 months ago. “I lost my home… We were happy there and how sad we are now. I miss going for walks and places alone. I’m afraid of the dogs and rats here, but cats make me happy. And I like the playground because it has slides and swings. It’s an amazing place, I love coming here with my friends.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Jouri Diaa’ Shihadat, 10, fled Syria 18 months ago. “I miss our farm. We used to have chickens. Here I can’t walk around freely. I can’t get all the kinds of food and sweets I had in Syria. I hope to go back to Syria by car with the windows rolled down so the fresh air can come inside. But to play here is the best thing that has happened since I arrived at the camp. I’ve made friends and I love them.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Duha Ali Alhariri, 12, fled Syria 18 months ago. “Life here is hard. There are so many dust storms and it’s always cold. There isn’t enough clean water. I miss my father who is still in Syria. And I miss my toys, and my school and friends. But I like to come here and play and dance with my friends. Music makes me happy.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mohammad Musa Masalmeh, 13, fled Syria 6 months ago. “When we came here we lost many things: our house and farm. I lost my bicycle, and we lost our refrigerator. We lost many family members. I miss my school. I remember how beautiful it was. I miss my father the most. He is still in Dara’a and can’t come here because he’s fighting for my country.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Khalid Musa Aldukhi, 14 (center), fled Syria 13 months ago. “I miss Syria. I miss my home and my friends. And I miss mushrooms. They used to appear after bombs were dropped in my neighborhood. We would collect them all and cook them with onions and oil. They came after we ran out of bread and had nothing to eat. They were a blessing. Now I live in a land that is not ours. I live in a tent, I’ve lost my pride. But the most important thing to being happy is to be safe and secure. I hope I will go back to Syria and rebuild it with my friends and family.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mahmoud Qasim Dagher, 15, fled Syria 1 year ago. “Being far from family members who are still in Dara’a is the hardest thing. I miss all the green spaces we had at home. Here it is just a desert and nothing is green or living. I am homesick! But I like playing football here with my friends, spending time outside and getting exercise. We have good cooperation here, unlike the rest of the camp where everyone is angry. I like being in a secure place away from the bombing, but I hope to go back to Syria and to go to school again. I don’t go to school here because the classes are crowded and the teachers are not interested in us. I hope that someday I can become a better person in my community and give back to Syria.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mohammad Ameen Airibdawi, 15, fled Syria 18 months ago. “I miss my home and my duck. I couldn’t bring my duck here and I really miss him. I used to play videos games a lot in Dara’a and I was really good. I just want to go home to Syria and live like we used to. I don’t like getting bullied by others, I hate fighting. I like coming here to train, I feel like I’m out of the camp.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Rodayna Alzaibi, 18, fled Syria 16 months ago. “Everything is hard. I spend most of my day standing in line and going to get water. I miss my own bedroom and a bathroom. I miss my privacy and space. I had a computer in Syria and had to leave it when we came here. I’m happy to be able to use a computer again and use the internet. I’m happy I can keep my brain active here and learn. I just hope to go back home and get married and raise a family in Syria.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

For young Syrians, it’s not just the horrors of war that haunt them — it’s the reality of loss and what they face every day now as refugees. These children went to school, played sports, celebrated birthday parties before their country was torn apart by conflict. Now they are sleeping in tents or derelict shelters, living without water or electricity, and unsure what their future holds.

We visited with ten children at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where Mercy Corps runs 13 Child Friendly Spaces that serve over 2,700 children. We’ve also built two sports courts, an IT lab with computer training, an arts and crafts hall and a Youth Center with a gym that offers weights, boxing, wresting, tae-kwon-do, aerobics and dance classes.

In their own words, these young people tell us what it’s like to grow up without their home and what keeps them looking forward. Scroll through their photos above to meet them.