Rula's Story

Rula Refugee Crisis

Rula draws pictures in Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space. Save the Children has chosen to portray children of the refugee crisis without showing their faces, as a way of protecting their identity. Photo: Simine Alam/Save the Children


Rula* was only four years old when an airstrike hit her school in Syria. Luckily, Rula was inside the school when the airstrike occurred so she was one of the few children who survived, but most of her classmates and friends were not as lucky. She has not been back to school since.

This was the final straw for Rula's father. He realized their home was no longer safe, so he took his wife and four young children to the nearby city of Raqqa in hopes of a better life. Rula and her older sister Hussain* and brother Randa* went to school for three days before another airstrike occurred and they stopped going to school completely. Life in Raqqa was hard, and the children often felt like they were in prison.

"We stayed in Raqqa for 3 years but we were like prisoners in the house because it was too dangerous to go outside," Rula said. "There was no water, no food, no electricity and there were airstrikes all the time."

Eventually Rula and her family left Syria for good and headed toward Turkey, where they met a smuggler who brought them to a boat that would take them to Greece.

Rula's father, a fisherman in his old village, drove the boat and they arrived safely in Greece, ready to start a new life.

Things are better in Greece, but they are not perfect. Rula's younger sister Dima*, 3, has never known anything but violence and still flinches whenever an airplane flies overhead. Save the Children is working with children like Rula and Dima to provide them the mental and emotional support they need through our Child Friendly Spaces. Eventually Rula's family would like to settle in Germany, but for now Rula is just looking forward to going back to school.

"We didn't leave Syria because we were poor. We left Syria because we needed an education. It's been 5 years since I've been to school," Rula said. "I am ready to study German and I can’t wait for the future. I want to help other children from anywhere in the world."


*Name has been changed to protect identity

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Google+ More