Fatima wears her pink jacket, her cute headband and her hair up in a ponytail as she heads out to school. With her innocent smile and exuberant personality, she looks like any other 7-year-old, except for the fact that she has survived a brutal war that has made her family among the 5.6 million Syrians who fled the country.
Having fled Syria to Turkey almost four years ago, the little girl does not remember much of her hometown. She does however, know that her family had to flee their country after her mother lost one of her legs during a missile attack and the country was no longer safe for them.
Even at her young age, Fatima has to help her mother a lot around the house. While her parents try to give their children a normal childhood, with their mother’s disability standing in the way, life is not always easy or smooth. She sometimes has to feed her little sister and brother, and helps them with their daily hygiene routine. Living away from home without many friends or family around has brought this family closer and Fatima and her 5-year-old sister, Sarah, are very close. “She is the best friend in the whole world,” she said while hugging her sister.
When the family first entered Turkey, Fatima was registered as two years older than her true age. When it was time for her to go to school, the little girl had to enter third grade instead of first, since that was her age on the Temporary Protection (TP ID) card, a document that allows her to access services, move freely, and receive humanitarian aid. Fatima’s parents believe in the importance of education and could not let their daughter become one the 40% of Syrian refugee children in Turkey who are out of school.
With the help of the Danish Refugee Council’s legal team in Kilis, and with funding from the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), the mistake was rectified and she was able to enroll as a first-grader in a school a few blocks away from where they live.
While the children call Turkey their home, they would love to go and visit all the beautiful places their parents always tell them about. They cannot wait to meet their cousins and see their grandparents again.