Invisible lives: Batoul Nejim

“We were comfortable in Syria, my parents’ income was really good and we were happy. The war began to get closer and people we knew began to die, so we had to leave. It became really hard, without my father.

“We didn’t know what to do, we didn’t know where to begin. Some of our relatives helped a little with clothing and blankets, but we still didn’t know how we were going to live. We used to get more help from the camp at the start, but now each family is given barely $13 a day. We’re a big family. How can $13 a day be enough?

“Toilets, clean water, we don’t have them. Our toilets are just holes in the ground. We’ve tried to work. My sister and I go to the fields and work as much as we can, but it’s really hard. All our dreams are gone. My sister is six years old.

“She should be in school at this age, she should have a future, but no. It’s really heart breaking. In terms of the future, it depresses me to think about it. There’s nothing I can see that will make us happy.

“There’s no hope to go back to Syria. Even if we do go back, what are we going back to? There’s nothing there. I had dreams when I was at school, doing well. In Syria, I was doing my baccalaureate [A-level equivalent]. I had finished my second- last exam, and had to miss my last exam because the area where my school was in Syria became too dangerous.

“I wanted to go to university, I could’ve done really well. I wanted to be a journalist and travel, and meet different people and hear their stories. But now, there’s nothing. Life is too hard to live now, let alone dream of anything.

“The situation in the camps is really bad. It’s sad that girls like me have to go to the field and work all day just to get some money to spend on their family. We had a future, but not anymore. Even living in a camp, you have to spend money. At the end of every month, lots of people are in debt. People think about going back because they can’t afford to live here. But what are they going to go back to, death?”

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