By Yasmine Saker and Leen Tarabichi
Homs, Syrian Arab Republic, 15 August 2017 – As fighting and attacks escalated in the city of Homs in early 2012, Ranim, 15 at the time, and her family, had to flee her home in the conflict-ridden neighbourhood of Baba Amr, seeking safety in the nearby neighbourhood of Idikhar.
Fighting also forced Ranim out of school for almost four years, shattering her hopes for a brighter future.
“As a young girl, I had big dreams of continuing my education and having a career,” says Ranim. “But when I had to stop going to school, I lost faith that I would be able to accomplish my dream,” she adds, remembering the difficult times she has lived through.
After years of despair Ranim was determined to pursue her dreams and continue learning. Ranim hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom in years but she studied hard on her own at home. Last year, she sat for the national 12th Grade exams, and was able to enrol in the University of Homs in mathematics.
Ranim also signed up for two nursing courses at a UNICEF-supported vocational training centre in Homs. It was then that she found her life calling.
“I learned a lot from the course; not only the technical information and experience I gained but most importantly the ethics and importance of humanitarian work,” says Ranim, now 21.
“To me, attending to sick people is what I have to do to pay back life, for being so generous with me, and giving me the opportunity to continue learning despite everything I have been through.”
After completing the courses with distinction, and through UNICEF’s skill-building programmes for adolescents and youth, Ranim received a summer internship at a hospital in Homs, where she will continue to work as she completes her education.
“The programme not only equips vulnerable young people with the required skills, but it also makes them more employable by connecting them with the relevant future employers,” says Mads Sorensen, Chief of Adolescent Development and Participation at UNICEF Syria.
In Homs and Hama, the programme allowed more than 200 young people to find suitable employment opportunities.
“I have learned that no dream is too big. You just need to believe in yourself, set a goal and chase it with passion. This will never ever fail you!” says Ranim with a proud smile.
UNICEF’s Adolescent Development and Participation Programme (ADAP), aims to support the most vulnerable Syrian adolescents and youth with positive development opportunities to ensure a smooth transition to adulthood. This includes developing their life and vocational skills and providing them with meaningful opportunities for innovative social, civic and economic engagement at local level.