The Syrian Civil War hit girls especially hard. They should be safe in their own neighborhoods, studying for school and doing things with their friends. Instead, they watched their homes destroyed by rockets and their families torn apart as they fled for safety.
Refugee families that were loving and stable before the war are fracturing under exhausting daily struggles. The burden on girls to help keep their families together forces them to grow up before they are mature enough to shoulder such responsibility. And they are often kept at home for their safety, increasing their isolation from relationships in school and community. These relentless pressures hinder their personal development at a crucial time in their lives when they would normally be discovering the world and their place in it.
Questscope mentoring programs are a lifeline to these girls who have nowhere else to turn. In our safe spaces they can talk about their lives and make friends with people who care and understand what they’re going through. Within our space, they are not alone.
Over the summer we partnered with the ME/WE Syria Project, an initiative by a young American Muslim media specialist to help refugee youth express emotions and describe experiences through storytelling. During a workshop, girls were asked to write individual short narratives. The next day, they presented moving stories about living through a brutal civil war and their struggle to find ways to change their world for the better.
Each of their stories was unique, but a thread common to all of them was always a male as the active hero. The most obvious question then was could girls also be active heroines, helping others and promoting change? This led to deeper conversations about what they wanted to do and how they could do it. By the end of the workshop, the heroes had all morphed into heroines.
The limitless potential within these girls, in unthinkably appalling circumstances, can be touched through just such conversations. It only takes someone willing to invest in relationships with them, taking time to listen and encouraging the sparks of creativity and leadership that are already there. These simple acts are quite transformative. Young women who think of themselves as significant change makers will start to act like significant change makers. And then significant change can happen, in their lives, in their families and in their communities.
A short interview with Mohsin Mohi-Ud Din from Me/We Syria and Mike Niconchuk from Questscope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQRClvWfcCg
An example of a film created by a child in one of Questscope's programs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCXrF4YLhrQ
Summary of tweets from audience and governments: https://storify.com/mohsindin/mewesyria-at-the-un