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A Beacon of Hope


A Beacon of Hope

The war in Syria has caused unimaginable suffering for a generation of children. But young Diyaa's spirit shines bright.
12 November 2013
Diyaa, an enthusiastic student from Syria, at school in Tripoli.

Twenty little faces stare straight at me, some shy and others smiling with a curious look on their face. They jump out of their seats to be polite and greet me. When I say hello, they reply in unison: "Hello, Miss!" My heart melts.

I am standing in a classroom in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, where UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council are providing classes to Syrian refugee children who don't go to school.

In the front row is a little boy with sparkly eyes who is wearing a bright yellow henley shirt. He smiles at me. Next to him rest two crutches. I approach him, expecting to see a cast on his leg. I figure he must have fallen whilst playing.

Diyaa gets to work in his classroom in Tripoli, Lebanon.

"Diyaa is one of the most confident children in class. He doesn't allow his injury to be a disability."

Then I realise that I can only see one leg under his shorts. The other one is missing. I smile, but inside I feel a deep sadness. This kid stands out. Not because of his injury, but because of the fire in his eyes.

I want to know more about him, but I don't want to make a fuss in front of the other children. I say goodbye and walk out of the class. Later I find out his name is Diyaa. It suits him perfectly. Diyaa means "shining a bright light." And that's just what he does.

Diyaa, seen here with his new classmates, doesn't allow his injury to be a disability.

Diyaa lost his leg in a bomb explosion a year ago. His teacher told me, "Diyaa is one of the most confident children in class. He doesn't allow his injury to be a disability." She said they were worried he wouldn't be able to go up the steps, but he said, "No, I want to go to school. I can do it." And sure enough, he does it without anyone's help.

Once again, I find myself humbled by a child. Diyaa is only eight years old, but there is no doubt that he has the strength of a man beyond his years.