Young girl works on a craft project

Photo credit: Plan International Canada 

Sixteen-year-old Fatima looks to her future

When the huge explosion rocked the port of Beirut in August 2020, Fatima immediately had a flashback to the war in Syria.

“Our house shook and we heard people screaming and going out of their houses to the street to see what was happening,” says the 16-year-old Syrian refugee who was at home with her two younger brothers and sister at the time of the blast.

The explosion reminded her of the air strikes she experienced in Aleppo before she and her family escaped Syria to take refuge in Lebanon. It left all of them feeling unsafe, traumatized, and anxious.

To cope, she enrolled in awareness sessions and recreational activities provided by Plan International, with financial support from Canadians through the Humanitarian Coalition and the Government of Canada.

The activities were a turning point for Fatima, giving her space to unleash her creativity and express her emotions, feelings and thoughts.

“After the explosion, I was really anxious,” she says. “Coming to these sessions helped me ventilate!”

Sessions Fatima participated in included sculpture, make-up and hair dressing. “I’m learning new skills and having fun at the same time,” she says, adding it’s helping her decide what she wants to do for a career. She’s thinking about becoming an architect.

The sessions have also helped her accept her adolescent body and set boundaries for her own protection. 

Now she imagines a brighter future.

“I want to buy my own house using my own money and I want to buy a motorcycle for transportation. I want to be independent,” she says. “I don’t want to get married early and have children like some of my friends who spend their lives cooking and taking care of the home and children. I want to live for myself, and I will work on achieving that.”