UK youth & teenage Syrian refugee share their experiences growing up

Seventeen-year-old London college student, Milto recently met 15-year-old Kawthar, a Syrian refugee living in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan to share their experiences growing up as teens.

The heart-warming video call between the teenagers was made possible by Christian children’s charity, World Vision UK and contemporary Christian church, Hillsong UK.

Kawthar was just five when her family fled the conflict in Syria. March 2021 (15 March) marked ten years since the conflict began. The war continues to devastate the country and has created one of the worst refugee crises of our time – an estimated 6.6 million Syrians remain displaced in neighbouring countries in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, of whom 2.5 million are children.

Kawthar is just one of millions of Syrians who have fled over the years to neighbouring countries. She arrived in Azraq refugee camp in 2016, and lives with her parents, three brothers and two sisters in a shelter.

Reflecting on the call, Milto, who is a member of the Youth x Young Adults Program at Hillsong UK said

“I was honoured to speak with Kawthar about the challenges she has faced growing up. I was pleased to hear that she has such a big family and that they are all together.”

Like many children across the world, children in Jordan’s refugee camps have had their daily routines and learning opportunities disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pair remained positive and spoke about their favourite hobbies, school subjects and future ambitions. Kawthar, who dreams of becoming a doctor “to help the elderly” was excited to learn that Milto too also wants to become a doctor.

Milto continued

“Every child, no matter their circumstances, has the right to achieve their dreams. It was so exciting to hear that we both want to become doctors, and I truly hope that one day we both will.”

World Vision has worked with Syrian refugees since the start of the crisis in March 2011. Over time, the charity’s focus turned from immediate relief and crisis support to ongoing holistic transformation for vulnerable children and their families.

Hillsong UK have launched a fundraising initiative for Adolescent-Friendly Spaces in Azraq refugee camp. The centres work to heal the emotional wounds of a generation of Syrian and Jordanian teens – allowing integration and promoting harmony and unity, teaching them forgiveness, and helping to restore the ambitions for a better future – a haven of hope in a time of such fragility.

Speaking of the initiative, Mark Sheard – Chief Executive Officer at World Vision UK said:

“We are delighted to have found an ally in Hillsong UK at this crucial time for thousands of Syrian teens and young adults living in Azraq refugee camp.

“Motivated by our Christian faith and God’s call to serve the most vulnerable, both World Vision and Hillsong UK are committed to transforming the lives of refugees. Too many young lives have been torn apart by 10 years of conflict and violence, and so it is imperative that we safeguard the future generation of Syrians in their time on need.”

Sheard continued:

“Through the generosity and prayers of Hillsong UK, its members and the public, we can go on to reach even more children via our Friendly Spaces and help them overcome their tragic experiences, get back to school and become strong and independent young people.”

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