We all need a home where we can live safely with our families.

Think about what home means to you and write down a list of words or phrases that sums up your thoughts and feelings. You could then add some drawings or photographs to your list to make a collage of your reflections.

During Refugee Week we think about the people who have been forced to leave their homes. According to the UNHCR – the United Nations Agency for Refugees - there are nearly 25.9 million refugees around the world, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

One of the countries most affected by war in recent years is Syria. Read the following accounts from two women talking about why they left their homes in Syria and their journeys to the neighbouring country of Jordan, where they and their families are now living as refugees. They were part of a drama project called Queens of Syria, which shared their stories with audiences in the UK with the support of the charity, Developing Artists. 

Mrs. Al S:

‘We first left our neighbourhood because of one of the attacks that hit the city of Al Sayyeda Zainab in the southern suburbs of Damascus.We moved around in Syria until we eventually fled to Jordan two and a half years ago. I realised we had to leave our home in Syria the moment the army attacked our area and there were around 30 tanks outside on the streets. No one was able to leave their house for four days straight and all houses were searched.

'That was the time we told ourselves that this place is no longer safe for us to stay. I remember the day we left Syria; my husband told me that he planned with a driver to come pick us up. I was so upset, and I cried because I did not want to leave. I had to pack all our belongings and get ready with tears running down my cheeks. All my sisters came over to say their goodbyes too.

'The next morning, we left, and we all cried throughout the drive until we reached the border. Crossing the border was hard on us too. We left Syria legally with our passports, but the procedure to let you into Jordan takes a long time until they agree whether or not to let you in. We waited for 10 hours until we were given the green light to cross over to Jordan’.

Mrs. M used to own a pharmacy and worked as a pharmacist in Syria. She has four children - three daughters Amina, Maya and Sara and one new-born baby boy named Yousef.

Soon after the war started, despite the area being safer than many others, they still heard bomb shelling and explosions. Her older daughter Amina and youngest Sara did not get as affected by the war as the middle one Maya. Maya really suffered from war; every time she heard the shelling her face would turn yellow, vomit and shake in fear almost to faint. It was at this point when the parents moved to Jordan to start a new life as Syrian refugees hoping to have a safe haven for their children. 

If like these two families you had to suddenly leave your home, what things do you think would be essential to take with you? 

The following activity from the Living Together Refugee Pack can help you to explore this issue further. Cut out the cards at the end of this section and lay them out on the floor or table. Imagine your family had to leave your home country quickly and become refugees. You have been given only 10 minutes to gather up 10 things to take with you to their new country. Which 10 things would you choose? Would they be the same as the ones in the pictures?

Once in your new ‘home’, things change for the worse and you are now in a situation where you can only keep four of the items. Which ones will you choose? Make a list and provide justifications for your choices. Imagine how it might feel having to leave your possessions behind.