Bassel was studying agricultural engineering in a university in Damascus and counting down the days for his graduation to become an active member of society and benefit his city, Der’aa and his country Syria. He had less than a year left until he graduates when his father, who works in Saudi Arabia, called him and informed him that he should leave Syria with his mother and siblings and head to Jordan. This left Bassel with little hope of finishing his studies, and added to the difficult situation he was facing in the university.
Bassel came to Za’atri camp with his family about a month ago, and he spent his time going around the schools asking for any teaching opportunities. He had some experience in teaching back in Syria, and he wanted to benefit the Syrian youth in the camp, as well as earn a living and support his family. However, no one would hire him on the account of him not having studied any of the subjects taught in school at his university. Bassel says: “I am 23 years old, and I have spent 18 of those years studying; education is really all I know. The schools in the camp rejected me without even testing my abilities! I think they should at least test any applicants to ensure that they can do the job. I am confident of my qualifications.”
The fact that Bassel is a young educated man gives him a sense of responsibility towards the youth in the camp. He encourages children to go to school, maintain high hygiene standards, and stay organized. In addition to that, he is a very social person and reaches out to many organizations working in the camp to try and help anyone in need inside Za’atri. His enthusiasm and the relationships he built with the people prompted them to elect him as a ‘street leader’ where he is responsible for 130 families; he listens to their problems and does all that he can to be able to solve them.
Despite the difficult situation that Bassel is living; being so close to graduating and going from studying agricultural engineering to living in a camp situated in the desert, he did not once think of leaving the camp illegally. In his words, Bassel says: “I am a person who follows the law, I came to Jordan legally, and it accepted me with open arms, so I respect this county and will not go against its laws.”
For a final comment, Bassel expresses his aspirations, “I am not looking for money or personal gain, and this is not why we left Syria. Most people here left everything behind and came to Jordan fearing for their lives. All I hope for is that anyone who is able to help this generation to contribute with what s/he can. This generation, without exception, was harmed by this crisis and right now is going through even a more difficult crisis. I hope that the world works on reducing the suffering that this generation is going through, perhaps they will be able to forget parts of it in the furute.”