Cate Blanchett

gets to know Ahmad, a baker, actor, and future pilot

Cate Blanchett travelled to Lebanon with UNHCR where she met Ahmad, a Syrian refugee who was celebrating his 14th birthday.  Ahmad was one of a group of young refugees acting in a drama at a community centre they attend.  He was an A grade student back home, but is currently not in education and working full time at a bakery to help support his family.  However Ahmad remains positive, hoping to return home and one day fulfil his dream of becoming an airline pilot.

Ahmad, 14 years old: “My name is Ahmad, and I work as a (sweets) baker, and when I grow up I want to be an airplane pilot and travel the whole world. One year ago, I heard about Intersos* and started attending activities at the center. I discovered that I really like acting, and with a group of friends I met at Intersos, we created a play about early marriage, since this is a problem in our communities. The play was very successful, and we performed it three times in front of a live audience. We were really nervous the first time, but then we got used to having an audience. We are now developing our theatre group, and we’re working on a play about child labor that we wish to perform all over the world.”

*NGO Intersos is an implementing partner of UNHCR

Ahmad and his family enjoyed a comfortable life in Syria. Ahmad speaks fondly of his house and garden, his friends, playing on his computer. He loved school, especially studying maths and Arabic. But then war came. “I saw many people who were injured….I know them, and I really like them, they were injured and died.” Ahmad and his family came to Lebanon to find safety, bringing virtually nothing with them. “When I came to Lebanon…everything changed for me…I have to work to help my family…I don’t go to school because I help my family.” Ahmad now works in a bakery, decorating and selling cakes. He realises it will be some time before he can return to Syria. “I was very upset when I found out I could not go back to Syria. It was like losing someone you really care about.”

But Ahmad still retains his hopes and dreams. “I hope that I can go back to my education; I can become a pilot and travel to all the countries in the world.” He has also forged new friendships at a community centre run by UNHCR partner Intersos. “At this centre, I made friends with eleven people, boys and girls… My friends here come from Damascus, Idlib and Aleppo….they come from different areas, and I really like them”

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Refugees. Ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Share their stories.

Ask any refugee child in Lebanon what he or she wishes and they, like Ahmed, will say ‘to go to school’. Two thirds of the 400,000 refugee children in Lebanon are not in school. UNHCR is working with the Ministry of Education and other partners to boost school enrolment from 106,000 refugees in school today to over 200,000 next year. Financial help is needed to reach this goal.

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