Bushra, 17, came to Lebanon five years ago with her father, mother and eight siblings, as conflict broke out in her country Syria. Her father, who has a law degree in Syria, is now working selling vegetables. The family lives in a very small, rundown rented home. She told CARE her story, as she prepares to go back to school in Tripoli, North Lebanon, this month:
l was living a normal childhood like any other child of my age. Suddenly something unbelievable destroyed all my dreams, my future – it was war.
I thought we would only stay in Lebanon for four months, so I decided not to enroll here. A year later, after having lost all hope of returning to my country, we started looking for schools here. Unfortunately, I wasn’t accepted in any Lebanese public school. I had no choice but to attend an informal school. But that was ok, because I was happy, it was an easy curriculum, we were all Syrians, I made lots of friends, and got very good scores.
Four years later, we realized that the informal degree is not accredited in Lebanon, and wouldn’t allow me to go to university. My friends and I were very afraid to lose our future. First, I got depressed and decided to leave school. But my mother, who believes in the importance of education and especially for girls, was very supportive. She convinced me to start grade nine in a public school. She spent 3 months negotiating and fighting with the school to get me in, and finally I was accepted thanks to my mother’s efforts. The first year was very difficult: the school was far from home, the English classes were very hard, and our home is very small so I couldn’t focus on my studies. I also couldn’t register in afternoon homework support because we cannot afford the cost. But I was determined to achieve my goal, and overcome all the challenges: I was memorizing new words every day, I used Google translate, I asked for my teachers’ support during breaks. I studied hard to succeed in the official exam. And I did! Now I’m in grade 12. My favorite topics are English and Biology.
It’s true that my grades have dropped compared to when I was in the informal school, but I don’t mind given that I’m still alive and I didn’t lose my future like other Syrian children. The harsh circumstances I went through didn’t break me, but made me into a stronger person. One day, I hope to become an English teacher.
Bushra is one of the girls who contributed to designing a programme that is being implemented by CARE to support 60 adolescent girls at risk of dropping out from school in continuing their Secondary education in Lebanon. She is benefiting from psychosocial support, leadership and mentorship trainings. She will serve as mentor to other vulnerable girls, help and inspire them to succeed the way she did.
 Bushra initially wrote her story in English, and this version includes additional information from an interview conducted by CARE with her.
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