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Airplanes in the sky may seem like a silly reason to miss school, but for Kareem*, 8, it's reality. Airplanes in the sky mean danger, and danger means staying home from school. For Kareem, school is the only place where he can have fun, learn new things, and play with his friends. School is the place where Kareem can forget that his country is embroiled in a horrific civil war.
"There have been many times over the last few years that I have stopped going to school because of the airplanes," Kareem said. "The airplanes are the worst because they drop barrels on villages and they destroy the houses and the schools."About two years ago we were at school playing in the schoolyard when we saw an airplane above, it was dropping missiles on the village. We heard very big explosions and everyone started screaming, we were very scared… We ran into the classroom and took cover under the desks to protect our heads in case they bombed our school. I was really afraid and I wanted to go back home."
Schools inside Syria are constantly under attack, and this keeps Kareem from receiving an education – a basic right of all children. At least one quarter of all schools across the country are damaged, destroyed, or occupied by soldiers. When a bombing like this occurs, Kareem stays home from school for weeks because his parents are so afraid.
Like any 8 year old Kareem loves to learn, play outside, and animals. His favorite animal is a turtle, because of their hard shells. Kareem wishes he had a hard shell like a turtle, to protect him from the missiles. He longs for the war to be over so he can return to his education full-time, and grow up to be like the photographers he sees capturing images of the rubble around him.
"When I grow up I want to become a photographer. I always see photographers here in the village after the bombings. They come to photograph the destruction and rubble, but I will be taking photos of nice things like nature, birds, and animals."
*Name changed for protection