By Chris Herwig and Abed el Majeed, UNICEF Jordan
December 2015 — 16 year old Mesh’al is a Syrian youth from Dar’aa, living in Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Like many boys in the camp, he has not gone to school since moving here and works transporting people’s groceries across the massive camp which is home to over 80,000 refugees. He visits a Makani centre managed by Save the Children International with support from UNICEF, where he learns Arabic, math and hair dressing.
“I was in the 7th grade back in Syria and bombing happened and other bad stuff. We came to Jordan. I should be in the 10th grade now but I didn’t study, I worked using a wheelbarrow to support my family. If I go to school there will be no one to support them,” says Mesh’al,
“The work is exhausting. When I was little I loved to read. I wanted to become a teacher. But now if I want to go to school I will go back to 5th or 6th grade. I ‘m older now so it’s not going to work. In my free time I go to the child’s club. I am learning hairdressing. I love hairdressing because it’s good and beautiful and it doesn’t make your clothes dirty,”
“To me hairdressing is a profession, it will remain for my future. But mathematics and Arabic will remain mine. If I learn them, they will remain mine.Hopefully, I am planning to become successful. Tomorrow, in the future I will open up a shop and I will have this profession,” adds Mesh’al.
In Jordan, of the estimated 220,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children registered by UNHCR, about 146,000 are enrolled in the public school system in camps and host communities.
UNICEF’s Makani initiative, in line with the #NoLostGeneration strategy, was launched in early 2015 in collaboration with NGO partners.
Makani centres in refugee camps and host communities in Jordan provide vulnerable children not accessing any form of education with informal learning, life skills training and psychosocial support under one roof.