Ghaith, 17-year-old Al Salam School student (left).

“My family and I left Syria because the very first casualty of my city, Idlib, was from our family; he wasn’t really a close relative but he had the same last name and that was enough to be under the government’s black list. So from the very beginning of the uprising, my family was seriously surveyed by the government. We spent a year knowing that militias were watching us, that they could burst into our house at any point and force my brothers to join the army, put them in jail, or kill my father. We were scared, everyday, but we didn’t want to leave Syria, so we stayed as long as we could. Then, we moved to Turkey and lived in Karakhan for about a year, without being able to study since there were no schools for Syrians in that town. When my mom heard about Al Salam School in Reyhanli, she did all she could so that we could move there as soon as possible. For a change, life has been much easier for me since I started going to Al Salam. I love the teachers here, the staff is adorable, and I got to meet Najeeb here. We’ve been best friends from day one, we’re always together, in class, in the school bus, the only time we’re not is when we’re home. We even do our volunteering work together in school.”

Najeeb, 17-year-old, Al Salam School student (right).

“Actually it’s funny cause Ghaith and I almost have the same story, but we never would have met without Al Salam. I am from Idlib as well, except that I am from the countryside, which the regime started bombing early on. All the schools in my area were destroyed, there is no hope there, life has stopped… which is why my family decided to leave Idlib in January 2013. I also lived in Karakhan for 6 months, where I couldn’t study as well of course. I would spend all my days at home, not doing anything, it was very frustrating cause we didn’t speak Turkish either so I couldn’t make friends. When we heard of Al Salam School, its educational system, its buses, and the way it treats students, we moved to Reyhanli right away. Al Salam School was the only school we had heard of before deciding to move, it really has a solid reputation among Syrian refugees here. And it deserves it. Honestly, it’s even better than what I imagined, they give us everything we need. Of course, I found Ghaith here, he really makes life easier for me, anytime I face a problem, no matter what it is, he can understand me, but the teachers too are all very special to me. With all the respect I have for them, I can only see them as friends or as family. We love each other a lot. ”