Hope in Conflict: Refugee Children Share their Stories

World Refugee Day (June 20) is an opportunity to remind the world that there are nearly 80 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes—leaving behind houses, careers, schools, family, community, and much more.

In honor of World Refugee Day, we are sharing stories from refugees, displaced people, and asylum seekers in their own words. Their stories remind us that being a refugee is not who someone is, rather it is the situation they are in. Each person has talents, hopes, and dreams for a better future.

According to UNHCR, more than 40 percent of displaced people in the world are children. From Colombia to Syria, a few of these children shared their stories:

Brisbany sits in her new home 

Brisbany, 11 years old, Colombia

One day, gangs were shooting at each other from the top of the mountains where we lived. Two days later, armed men came to my house and took away my mother and father, but thank God, they did not kill them. After that, we had to run away. One day, I hope I can return to my hometown. Right now, I am working to get an education and improve myself so that I can save lives in the future.

Shahed stands in the TIGER community center

Shahed, 14 years old, Jordan

Because of war in my home country, Syria, my family and I moved to Jordan and we settled in Za’atari Camp. I was one of the first TIGER (These Inspiring Girls/Guys Enjoy Reading) participants, which makes me proud. I love that at its inception, the program targeted girls, taking into consideration the needs of young women in displacement. In the future, I wish for peace in all the Arab and Muslim countries. I dream of pursuing my education and traveling abroad to learn new languages. When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer to advocate for human rights and help vulnerable people.

Jinan reads a book at the camp library

Jinan, 11 years old, Northeast Syria

I fled Iraq in 2018 with my mother and four siblings. My favorite place to be in the camp is the library. The library gives me a safe space to read and make new friends. It shows us the world outside the camp and reminds us that life is beautiful. I love reading science books and discussing my discoveries and ideas with others. When I grow up, I hope to become a teacher, so that I can help other girls become educated and participate in building their society. I hope to return to my home one day and to see it in peace.

Ahmed playing sports with his friends

Ahmed, 14 years old, Northeast Syria

I have been living in a displacement camp for four years. My favorite thing about life in the camp is the opportunity to play sports. When construction of a play area started in the camp, I went to the engineer and asked him if there would be a football field. Because I love playing so much, I formed a team with my friends in the camp, and now we play football together weekly. It gives us somewhere to be away from our tents. My plan is to become an architect because I have seen so many destroyed homes, I hope to become the one who rebuilds them.

Mohamed plays on the swing set

Mohamed, 10 years old, Northeast Syria

I have been living in my camp in Syria since 2015. My favorite thing to do in the camp is to play at the playground with my friends. When my friend pushes me on the swing, I see the sun in front of me and feel its beauty. I focus on the shape and color of the sky, and I feel as if I am flying like a bird. When I grow up, I want to be a doctor. I have a heart problem myself, so my dream is to help other sick children.

Abeer eats bread distributed by Blumont in her tent

Abeer, 10 years old, Northeast Syria

I fled from the war with my family five years ago. I don’t remember it, but I know that because of hunger and the coldness of the desert, I became disabled. Then, after we thought we were safe, ISIS entered our tent and killed my 16-year-old brother. After all that, my father was in a lot of mental distress, which took a toll on his physical health as well. We just hope to leave the camp and come back to our homeland and re-build our life. When we return to Iraq, I will get treated.

Sanaa discusses Youth Committee activities with Blumont employee

Sanaa, 14 years old, Northeast Syria

Although my experience has been traumatic, I have been able to build a new life here in the camp with the friends I met through the Youth Committee. Committee activities and responsibilities strengthened my self-confidence and showed me that I have a lot of support to give others despite my own needs. It makes me feel needed and important. I have always wanted to become a doctor, so I can provide treatment and comfort to all who suffer. I hope that safety and stability return to my village one day, so that I can continue my education and fulfill that dream.