Four years ago Firas led a normal 12-year old boy’s life. He went to school in his hometown of Bosra as Sham, southern Syria, and spent time with friends and family.
“I was in Grade 5 at school and then the crisis started and I haven’t been back since,” says Firas, now a mild mannered 16-year old living in Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan.
Firas has missed 3 school years but he’s still learning. Every day he attends activities at one of Za’atari’s UNICEF and International Medical Corps (IMC) run ‘Adolescent Friendly Spaces’ where his passion is learning about computers. “It’s practical, I come here to learn computer so that I can use it in the future. I want to be an IT teacher and teach about computers,” he says.
The centres offer a range of activities and psychosocial support for children aged 12 to 18 through artwork, sports and drama, as well as life skills and computer and language classes.
Firas’s teaching dream is already being realised. After his morning session at the centre he goes back to his home caravan and teaches children living in his Za’atari neighbourhood. “The younger children who don’t come to the centre, many want to learn about computers, so I said, ‘I will teach you at home’,” Firas explains proudly. “I usually teach for between 1 and 4 hours each day,” he adds.
While Firas acknowledges that his own computer and teaching skills are still developing he also believes that he provides more than just a simple lesson. “At least the first thing is to get them away from their sadness, to give them something else to focus on and something new for the future. They have something new they can use,” says Firas.
When Firas dropped out of school because of the war he thought he would never get past the turning a computer on and off stage. ”I never got to learn on computers at school because you only start after Grade 5 and that’s when I dropped out of school. I knew nothing before only how to turn it on and off. Here I learnt everything,” he says.
He is now a role model for his peers and younger children in Za’atari who like youth across the world are determined to be skilled on computers. “I feel like it is normal. I like it when they learn something they don’t know. It’s my duty to teach them. I never wanted to drop out of school,” he finishes.