Shereen is a young, charming 12 year old from Syria, now living in Lebanon. She’s been enrolled at SB OverSeas Teaching centre for the past 3 to 4 years.
Similar to other Syrians, she was displaced with her family of 7 children from her home in Aleppo due to the war in Syria. Her family fled to Lebanon, running away from the danger, horror and poverty imposed by war and extreme violence. The future seemed bleak, but Shereen’s family didn’t lose hope and life kept going on, although with some hardships and blocks to overcome.
With time, patience and perseverance the family’s condition improved. Her father found a job in a chocolate factory, together with her elder brothers. Two of her sisters got married and life started to get better, slowly. She and her family are now settled in a small, cozy home near the sporting stadium in Beirut, which is only 15 minutes’ walk from the SB OverSeas teaching center where Shereen is a student.
Shereen was illiterate when she started at the SB Beirut center. She started from nothing, learning with strong will, with an unstoppable thirst for knowledge. She listens attentively to her teachers and is kind to her friends and everyone else she meets. She’s very proud and loves being in the center, especially when her teachers mix fun activities with learning. She’s outgoing, full of life and loves to run and play in her free time.
Shereen misses her home and country in Syria. Although young, her heart is full of happy moments, memories of her friends and neighbors and her old home in the small town of the ancient city of Aleppo. Her dream is to return to her country, which she loves, and to her home where she was raised. There she opened her eyes to the world and took her first breath.
Looking past all the hardships and horrifying events they faced, the violence and sudden displacement they went through, Shereen and her family proved that with strong will, positive attitude and their love of life, nothing could stand in their way.
Today Shereen is in year 5 at the center; a very clever and kind student whom everyone admires and loves to talk to. She has inspired hope and planted happiness in the hearts of everyone she meets.
With her shimmering smile and strong will to seek knowledge, to learn what is helpful and necessary to build a better future full of peace and prosperity for herself and for humanity, Shereen teaches us that the force of goodness in one’s heart never dies, no matter what the forces of evil plot and practice.
It’s very true that a smile on a child’s face can wash away all misery, ignorance and evil in the world. Doesn’t a light bulb light up a room full of darkness? Shereen’s smile lights up all hearts with love, pleasure and hope.
Written and prepared by Mahmoud Kaj
Huge thanks to our friends SB OverSeas for sharing Shereen’s story.
To learn more about SB OverSeas, and their work to support people affected by the refugee crisis, visit their Facebook page and sboverseas.org, and please leave a comment below for Shereen and her family.