Photo of the Week: Struggling to attend school

In this photo, 11-year-old Nour (right), who has Down Syndrome, plays a game with Ebru, a youth worker from the Turkish Red Crescent, at the shelter where Nour and her family live in the Islahiye camp for Syrian refugees.

Nour and her family fled their home in the Syrian Arab Republic more than three years ago, soon after violence erupted there. She used to attend a special school for children with Down Syndrome in her country, where she learned to read and write, but she can no longer attend school because the learning facility in the camp cannot accommodate children with special needs. Still, such obstacles do not keep her from thinking of the future. “I’m both hard-working and smart,” says Nour, who dreams of becoming a doctor one day.

Almost 25 years ago, with the creation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the world made a promise to children to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to have their voices heard and to reach their full potential. The CRC makes clear the idea that a basic quality of life should be the right of all children rather than a privilege enjoyed by only a few.

As the world looks toward the CRC’s anniversary in November, we celebrate declining infant mortality, rising school enrolment and better opportunities for children, but challenges – such as poverty, abuse and neglect – remain, depriving children of their fundamental rights. And children like Nour who have been displaced by conflict continue to struggle daily to have their basic needs met, such as decent housing, water and sanitation, protection against childhood diseases and education.

Nour currently participates in activities offered at a UNICEF child-friendly space in Islahiye camp. Child-friendly spaces are created to assist children and women in emergency situations, to provide them with a sense of normalcy in their lives – and with a safe and secure environment in which they can begin to overcome the effects of crisis. But the spaces are a temporary solution. Only through concerted efforts on the part of governments, civil society and everyday citizens can children like Nour see their rights realized and, one day, also have their long-term dreams fulfilled.

Susan Markisz is a UNICEF Photographer and Assistant Photography Editor

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