Solaf, 9 years old: “My name is Solaf and I’m from Bosra in Syria. I remember my house there. It was big with a brown door. There was a garden outside with olive trees, lemon trees, orange trees and apple trees. We planted basil, thyme, chamomile, parsley, eggplants and potatoes. A missile hit our roof and we had to go and sleep in the mosque. Then the mosque got bombed and after that we came to Jordan.
I don’t like it much here in the camp. There’s no electricity. We use solar lamps at night but they only last for 30 minutes. If we had electricity I would like to watch television… no, a laptop! I want to watch TV on a laptop. When I’m not at school I play with my friends and do sports. I’m learning tae kwon do so that I can defend myself when my brother is not around. I can almost do the splits, just a bit more to go.”
“I want to go to America. One of my relatives went once and told me there is normal life there—big supermarkets and good schools. I would do my exams and get good grades there. I want to become a doctor and treat diabetes. Why? Because my mother has diabetes. I want to help my family because they are all I have.”
Nine-year-old Solaf is a Syrian refugee living with her parents and older brother in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. Originally from the town of Bosra in southern Syria, she and her family fled to Jordan in 2013 after their home was partially destroyed in a missile strike. Solaf has vivid memories of the conflict in Syria. “I remember when a missile hit the graveyard in our town, and the body of someone called Mousa came out of the ground.”
Despite everything she’s been through, Solaf is a happy and lively child, who loves playing sports with her friends in the camp, and doing jigsaw puzzles in her family’s shelter. She loves helping her mother with the cooking, and rattles off the recipe for her favorite dish of shishbarak—lamb dumplings, cooked in a yogurt sauce.
The conflict in Syria has lasted for more than five years, leading to the world’s largest refugee crisis, with 4.8 million Syrians fleeing to Jordan and other neighbouring countries in the region.