Arriving in Jordan late at night, greeted by Muslim Aid field staff, I was apprehensively awaiting the next day. I would be meeting a number of different Syrian refugee families, who I had been told had been through all kinds of trauma and difficulties during their journey to Jordan from Syria.
The next day, we woke up early to start the journey towards a built up camp in which many Syrian refugees had been living for many years, even before the war started in 2011.
I wasn't prepared for what I was going to hear that morning...I met a 15 year old girl who gave one of the most horrifying accounts I’ve had to hear in my work so far. Warning- distressing content.
Back in Syria, when she was only 9 years old, Esraa (pictured below, name changed) was kidnapped by armed militias who took her, in order to lure her father into giving himself up. She was held for 45 days. What her mother Nabila told us (whilst she was in another room) about what happened to Esraa in those 45 days is stuff of nightmares, literally. Esraa was brutally raped, multiple times, she was beaten so badly that they broke her jaw - which still hasn’t healed properly. She sustained internal injuries as a result of her assault. Her mother told us that they choked her so tightly, she still feels stiffness in her neck even years later. Just days after they took her father and returned her to her mother, they sent pictures to her mother of her father’s burnt body.
Years later as a refugee in Jordan, Esraa still suffers the consequences of the conflict, often slipping into angry and violent fits due to the trauma she has undergone. You wouldn’t be able to tell by her endearing smile that she could have suffered such atrocities at such a young age, but, small signs of body language give it away- the writhing of her hands, her nervous laughter. Just a few weeks ago she tried to commit suicide by launching herself from a balcony.
But not all is lost. Muslim Aid were able to sponsor Esraa’s education, giving her something to look forward to. Today she proudly presented to us her certificate of excellence for high achievement. What’s more she was awarded a certificate for memorizing Surah Baqarah (the longest chapter in the Quran). Esraa wants to be a human rights lawyer and she loves Arabic at school. She has high hopes of the future all thanks to the support of generous donors (like you) and the amazing work of local country based Muslim Aid staff.