As a refugee of the Syrian war, 21-year-old Rayan has been uprooted many times in her young life.
Rayan grew up in Jordan as one of the country’s two million Palestinian refugees. Her parents divorced and her father died shortly after, and then she moved to Syria, where her mother has roots.
She and her mother lived in Homs until the war came right into their home. Their next-door neighbor’s house was bombed and shells hit their own. “That’s when we decided to move to Lebanon,” says Rayan. “But we brought papers to prove ownership of the house just in case the war ends, and we can go back to Syria.”
When Rayan first arrived in Lebanon, she was depressed. “I had difficulty adapting, and I’m the type of person that likes solitude.” She eventually enrolled in a school that was free to Syrian refugees, but it didn’t provide students with any educational certification, so she dropped out and instead looked for a job. During her two years working in a local clothing shop, she took classes in computers, Arabic and English. “I have a passion for learning new things,” says Rayan.
Soon she heard of a new nursing course for refugees like her, and she joined and ended up graduating at the top of her class at the Sidoon University College. “It was my mom’s dream for me,” she explains, but the high cost of continuing a nursing degree almost discouraged her. “My mom told me to look for scholarships and that’s how I found Anera.”
“When I got the scholarship from Anera, I felt like finally, I will do something, I will be able to live life on my own, to be independent,” she says. Now, when she looks at other refugees, she recognizes that in many ways she is lucky. And above all, “School distracts me from thinking about my father and about what happened in Syria.”
In Lebanon, nursing is one of the few professions in which Palestinians can legally work, which is why Rayan chose it. “It’s a humanitarian field,” she says. “And it’s good that I can help any sick person I see.”
School distracts me from thinking about my father and about what happened in Syria.
Becoming a nurse isn’t Rayan’s only ambition, though. She keep herself busy volunteering to help other refugees with an organization called Colourful Imprints. And even though she only learned to read and write five years ago, she’s already dreaming of one day becoming a journalist. “I don’t need to become famous, but I just want people to read my work.”
Rayan has an inspiring message for anyone who feels desperate and powerless: don’t give up. “Surely there’s a miracle that will happen and change everything, you only need to have a will. Thanks to my will and to Anera, of course, I got what I wished for and more.”