The Future of Syria's Children

23/05/2016 16:17 | Updated 23 May 2016

I have lost track of how many times I tell my children, Arlo and Angelica, how lucky they are. They dutifully nod at me and say, "yes Mum, we know", but I wonder how much a six and seven year old can really imagine. How much a six and seven year old can understand of the cruelties of life and how quickly, everything that is loved, can be turned upside down and simply lost.

I travel a lot with Save the Children, and last week, I added Lebanon to the list of countries I have visited to see the impact of this life saving Charity's work. I met Rami*, a Syrian refugee, and father of five, who had taken shelter in Akkar - Northern Lebanon.

Rami* and his family are just like mine - or at least they were. They are, or were, comfortably middle class - with an education and aspirations matching my own. He showed me a picture of his beautiful terraced home in Homs and he spoke, with pride of the job and the life he had lost. Rami is now one of the 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees that calls Lebanon, a country as small as Wales, home, There isn't much space in Lebanon - it's the largest per capita refugee hosting country in the world, and despite opening its boarders, the sanctuary it offers is hardly bearable. As we sat in his makeshift tent, edging onto the main road, his eldest daughter, Hiba*, remembered their home in Syria. Shyly she reminisced about the smell and feel of the sea - where her father would take her on special days; of the taste of ice cream, and of the colour of the leaves.

Rami, his wife and children fled Syria three years ago - walking for days carrying two month old twins. They had stayed in Syria as long as they could - but regular shelling and militia attacks forced their flight. Hiba has memory of home, her brothers and sisters know nothing else but their makeshift shelter.

I asked Rami what more could the international community do to help. His humility astounded me. "There are those worse off than me" he said. "Help them first, and the Lebanese are poor too. Then come back for me". This, from a man who had lost almost everything.

As I looked at Rami's children rolling around their tent, nudging and pinching each other, in the hope no one had noticed - I couldn't help but clock the vague adornments to their shelter - the drawings proudly pinned to the tattered fabric of the tent, and the irony of the word "happy" woven into the canvas.

But what that showed me, was that they were still a family - and still sought normality amidst the abject poverty of their new life. Unlike other children I've met around the world, depleted by diarrhoea and disease, who have sat dejected and quiet, Rami's children were still as boisterous and as challenging as my own.

The future of Rami's children and millions of others like them depends on them being able to get an education. In Syria, before the war, they all would have had access to decent, free schooling. Now 2.8 million Syrian children are out of school - threatening the creation of a lost generation. Today, Monday 23rd May, the UK's Minister for International Development Justine Greening, Gordon Brown, and other influential figures will announce a new fund for education in emergencies at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. Save the Children is launching a new campaign at the summit to ensure that no refugee child, anywhere in the world, is out of school for more than a month.

I hope and pray that one day Rami and his family can return to their home in Homs and rebuild the life they had before the war. Until then, World leaders must take action to keep hope alive and ensure that refugee children have a promise of a better future.

*Names have been changed for protection purposes