It was his eyes that got me. And his eyelashes. One of the most gorgeous little boys I have ever met. With a smile that lit up the room. And a cheekiness about him that I knew we wouldn’t see today but I wanted to know more about. Ahmed, on the right in the above picture, is 14 and a keen footballer. Back in Syria he used to play in the street with his brother and friends. In the summer holidays they rented a football pitch so they could have matches. I ask if he broke his arm (it is currently in a cast) playing football here and he says no, he fell in the playground at school.
The recently trained coaches (funded by World Vision and more about this in a future post) were also with us and seconded just what great players these boys were, captains of teams that had recently won several matches.
I asked Ahmed what he wanted to do when he left school he didn’t really give me answer. But I knew his great passion was football as his coach was in the room and had been telling us what a talented player Ahmed is.
“How about David Beckham, you want to be the next Beckham?”
Ahmed looked at me and laughed. And then nodded. Football was his passion and had he been in any other country but Syria he may well have been scouted and able to live out his dream of playing professionally. Had he now been living in any other country but Jordan as a refugee he might be able to watch his beloved Barcelona playing on the TV.
But he can’t. There isn’t a TV in the two shelters the family now call home on the Al Azraq refugee camp in northern Jordan. There isn’t much point having a TV when you don’t have any electricity.
Life is hard for this family, who we met on our visit to the camp. A hard working Dad, Mr Ayman, has a degree in child psychology from Beirut University. At home in Syria he was a teacher and a social worker, earning enough money to support his family. Now in Jordan it isn’t that easy. He stresses that the Jordanians have been very kind to them:
They are very hospitable to us, but we want to get to the UK
As the press once again this week seems to be full of stories about making refugees paint their front doors or wear wrist bands to claim free food I am saddened that we are not looking at these refugees as people. People like Mr Ayman who has a degree, something I don’t have, who has something to give to society (far more than I give). A man who desperately wants to work and keep his family warm and safe.
Mohammed, sitting next to Ahmed said one of the most profound things I have ever heard from a nine year old. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said via our translator that he wanted to be an engineer, though he loved playing football, he wanted to be an engineer
Because it is the children who will rebuild Syria
So whilst the parents want their children to get to Europe to get an education, and themselves a chance to work, the children have plans to go back and rebuild the country they call home