Every week, Manal* gets together with eight other girls in a classroom. She didn't know any of them before, and now they're some of her closest friends. They are all refugees from the war-hell in Syria.
They all crossed the border into Jordan when the war broke out. One of the first things they tried was to enroll in school. But it was too late. They had been out for so many years that they couldn't catch up. Pretty bleak, after surviving hell.
Her family was so destitute that they thought they were forced to sell her to be married. At least this would provide some cash for food for her younger siblings. Desperate measures by people at the end of their rope.
We got this news through a network of refugee women who were really worried.
It took a couple of days for us to put together a support package for her mother so that she would not be forced to do the unthinkable to feed her children.
We immediately enrolled Manal in our Alternative Education classes – designed specifically for youth with experience of unspeakable trauma who need extra support to catch up – girls just like Manal and her friends.
With the special attention of our trained facilitators, these girls can dare to dream again. And dream they do!
Haya wants an education and won't stop until she has her high school diploma.
Rasha plans to complete our alternative education program and go to vocational school.
And Manal – Manal has really big plans. She intends to become a lawyer for women's rights. She knows this is going to be a tough road, but her grit and determination will make it possible. She will soon sit for exams to get back into public school to gain the skills and build her confidence to go on to university.
We cannot stop war raging just across the border in Syria, but we can create second chances for young women and men caught in its destructive wake. No more desperate measures. Now we are measuring for the size of those big dreams.
* All names have been changed.