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By Ayberk Yurtsever

13-year old Ghader in front of a UNICEF tent

“I miss my home, my teachers, my friends and my relatives, but I am happy here,” says 13-year old Ghader. She lives at the Altınözü refugee camp in Hatay, Turkey, along with her parents and four siblings. ©UNICEF/Turkey-2014/Yurtsever

Hatay, Turkey, March 1, 2014 –“The most frightening thing in Syria was the sound of the rockets at night. We were so afraid of the guided missiles,” says 13-year old Ghader. “Our house was half destroyed.”

Ghader recalls the fighting in her village near Idlib, which led to her family’s decision to flee, “Our village was under heavy bombardment and sadly, we lost our uncle. We set out in the evening to cross the border to Turkey. It took us four hours to get there although it used to be a one-hour trip. We met one of my other uncles at the border, and he led us to the refugee camp at Altınözü.”

Even though she misses her friends and relatives in Syria, she says, “I am happy here. I’m in the 7th grade and go to school in the mornings. Math is my favourite subject. I want to grow up to be a paediatrician, because I love children.”

Each day, after class, Ghader heads to the camp’s Child Friendly centre. “I love the leadership, volunteering and planning classes. They teach us very good things, and we need to put what we learn into practice. I also like playing games and drawing pictures — especially pictures of nature,” she says with a smile.

As a final thought on the situation back in her home country, Ghader explains, “If I was the leader I would help people. Above all, I would help the little children, because they are our future. I would think before I act. I would advise my people to guide them in the right direction.”

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