Photo essay: Back to school around the world

For children in most countries around the globe, the month of September means back to school. It’s the time of the year that children of all ages, being naturally hungry to learn, are excited to see their old classmates and meet their new teachers. But going to school is not easy for everyone. In times of crisis, it can be extremely difficult, especially for girls. Among the most common barriers are financial difficulties, chores, early marriage and safety. We had the chance to meet some of the most determined girls and boys who, despite the challenges they face, are now also preparing to go back to school!

Rafeef, Syria

Rafeef is 14 years old, from Syria. She wants to be an architect. Hiba Judeh/CARE

“My name is Rafeef and I am 14 years old. Some girls leave school because they are forced to get married and that’s very wrong. I was selling socks to help my mother with the daily expenses but now I am so happy to go back to school. I want to be an architect so I can build homes for other refugees like me. I’m very grateful to CARE for the Cash for Education Program because otherwise I would have been forced to get married and lose all my hopes and dreams.”

Haya, Iraq

Letter from 13 year-old Haya. Sara Rashdan/CARE

This letter reads: “Greetings, I am an Iraqi refugee, my name is Haya Khalil, and I’m 13 years old. My father was killed in Iraq. My only dream is to continue my education and become a doctor so that I can help sick people. I urge you to help me and give me a student fund so that I can continue my education. Please save my future from being lost and help me finish my education.”

This is what Haya decided to write to CARE when her mother told her about the Cash for Education Program that would help the family enroll Haya in school again.

“I do not want to get married now like my sister did. I want to grow up and finish my education so that I can become a psychiatrist and help the people that went through situations like me. When I become a doctor, I will be able to support my family and make this world a better place.”

Bushra, Syria

Bushra is 17 years old, from Syria. She wants to be an English teacher. Wafaa Obeid/CARE

Bushra arrived in Lebanon five years ago with her father, mother and her eight siblings, as conflict broke out in Syria.

“I was living a normal childhood like any other girl my age. Suddenly the war destroyed all my dreams, my future. The first year in school [in Lebanon] was very difficult. The school was far from home, the English classes were very hard, and our home is very small so I couldn’t focus on my studies. I studied hard to succeed. Now I’m in the twelfth grade. My favorite topics are English and Biology. One day, I hope to become an English teacher.”

Sabirullah, Afghanistan

Sabirullah is 10 years old, from Afghanistan. He wants to be a teacher.

“I felt lonely and unhappy when I was separated from the other children (because of my disability), but now I am in the 4th grade and I participate in the daily activities of the class. My parents and teacher always encourage me.”

Zoula and Maou, Niger

Zoula and Maou are sisters from Niger. They can’t wait to go back to school.

Zoula (on the left), who is 13 year old said: “I’m happy to go back to school because I’ll be more intelligent and be able to become an independent woman,” says 13-year-old Zoula (left).

“I can’t wait to go back to school to learn new things so I can make my father proud and also see my friends so we can play,” says Zoula’s sister, 10-year-old Maou (right).

Sabiou, from Niger

Sabiou is 17 years old, from Niger.

“Going back to school to me means that I’ll be able to give back to my community and help my people,” says 17-year-old Sabiou.

You can help provide students with the tools they need to learn like books, a school uniform or school fees.