MORE RESPONSIBILITIES THAN JUST BEING A STUDENT: IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Photo: Young Syrian refugee volunteer Haliz in Domiz camp in Kurdistan Region of Iraq inviting refugee women to visit a listening centre, where they can learn more about preventing gender-based violence, get confidential counselling and advice Photo: Young Syrian refugee volunteer Haliz in Domiz camp in Kurdistan Region of Iraq inviting refugee women to visit a listening centre, where they can learn more about preventing gender-based violence, get confidential counselling and advice Photo: S. M. Abdullah / UNHCR

By Tigist Girma Gebresilassie, UNHCR

Meet Haliz, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee girl living in Domiz camp in Dohuk, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Haliz, together with her parents and younger brothers, came to Iraq from war-torn Syria five months ago. She dropped out of school in the 11th grade, when she fled from her hometown of Qamishlio.

 

Haliz is currently one of the members of the Youth Protection Committee, a team of volunteers that conduct awareness activities among the refugee youth in Domiz camp. Youth volunteers help UNHCR and partners learn about problems and challenges faced by young refugees as well as identify the most vulnerable youth who require attention and support.

Haliz enjoys being a volunteer and says it has been a very enriching experience for her. “I am learning many things I would have never known. When I was first offered training on gender-based violence, I was so confused and surprised that there were so many things I didn’t know about,” she says. “I realized that I can be of help to my community by disseminating important information and messages and preventing harmful things from happening.”

Haliz is dreaming about going back to school. UNHCR, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Department of Education are building a secondary school and Haliz’s dream may soon come true. She has already taken a placement interview and plans to join 11th grade next academic year in the newly built school.

“I missed this year in school, but in a way I feel now more educated and empowered than before,” she says. “Back home, I was just a student. Here I assumed more responsibilities towards my community. Helping the community, I know my time is well spent.”

Haliz has a message to her fellow youth-refugees, who constitute about one third of the camp population. “I want to say: do not be upset or frustrated because you cannot do things you used to do. There are many other things to learn and there are many ways to help your community. It is never too late to learn something new.”

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNHCR

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