Rula*, 7, draws pictures at Save the Children’s child-friendly space in Kara Tepe. She and her family fled from Syria to Turkey, from where they got on a rubber boat to Lesvos island, Greece. Photo credit: Simine Alam/Save the Children 2015.

Rula*, 7, draws pictures at Save the Children’s child-friendly space in Kara Tepe. She and her family fled from Syria to Turkey, from where they got on a rubber boat to Lesvos island, Greece.

Rula's Story

After Airstrikes Hit his Daughter’s School, a Fisherman Flees Syria by Boat to Keep His Family Safe

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 survived, but most of her classmates and friends did not.

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

"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 and headed toward Turkey, where a smuggler brought them to a boat that would take them to Greece. Rula's father, a fisherman in his old village, piloted 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 flinches whenever an airplane flies overhead. Save the Children is working with them to provide 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

 

 

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