5 unstoppable girls of the Middle East
Every year, October 11 marks International Day of the Girl, a day to recognize and support the rights of girls around the world. This year’s theme is GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable, and we’d like to introduce you to a few strong and inspiring girls we know from Palestine and Lebanon.
“I wore my first prosthetic leg as an infant, before my first birthday. I was able to walk at 11 months…When I jump over fences, I feel like I’m jumping over all the negativity that I see around me. In my dictionary there is no ‘impossible.’ The word “impossible” is only a shield, and behind it hide the ones who are genuinely disabled…I hope to be known worldwide and be the first girl from Middle East with a prosthetic leg who jumps fences on horseback…To me, the only person with disability is the one who accepts failure and quits, the one who says ‘I can’t.'”
– Heba, a 17-year-old girl living in Gaza who has never let where she lives or a prosthetic leg get in the way of pursuing any of her ambitions
“I come from Baba Amr, in the city of Homs. Baba Amr is the neighborhood where everything started in Syria. My father disappeared during the war. Right after the siege was over, we escaped to Lebanon — my mother, my three sisters and me. I’m the oldest. We’re all girls, and you know what? This is actually better, because when there are boys in the family, they tend to make decisions for everyone. While me, I am a free spirit! My dearest dream is to go back back home and get my degree so I can become a pharmacist.
“Soon after we arrived in Shatila camp, I started to volunteer at the Najdeh Association [Anera’s partner]. I cannot spend all day doing nothing. At least there I feel that I am helping some people. I teach young children who don’t have access to school and I help pupils with their homework. Education is very important. It is the most important thing to build a future.”
—Rahaf, 18, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon
“Early on, I learned how important it is to practice a sport. I decided to study physical education at university. Sports requires knowledge and skill and I can make a difference in the world with sports…After playing soccer, I see the girls smiling from ear to ear. This is one of my biggest achievements. It makes me proud.”
– Eman, the girls’ coach in Gaza who dreams of coaching an all-women’s team from Palestine that competes in international soccer tournaments
Noor lives with her family in Beit Hanoun, in the northeastern corner of Gaza. She is a diligent student. Her career ambitions are torn between law and medicine. “I wish I could be both — a lawyer and a doctor at the same time,” she says. She likes to spend what free time she has playing with her niece, Miral, or exploring the outdoors. “I love sitting alone, enjoying the beauty of nature and trees. It nourishes my soul and enriches my life.”
—Noor, 14, is a student in Gaza, pictured with her niece
“All the boys in my class think they can play football better than me. I decided to prove them wrong! So I practiced everyday after school until I got accepted to the team. I am the only girl and they make fun of me sometimes but it doesn’t matter because I beat them every single time!”
—Rayan, a 13-year-old Palestinian, lives at Shatila Camp and wants to become a professional soccer player. She participates every year in the soccer camp hosted by Anera’s and Intercampus.
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