Protecting the futures of Syrian children: Rifat’s story
It was the unfairness of it all which stood out the most. His past was full of trauma and fear - now his future looked increasingly bleak as well.
Like many Syrian refugees, Rifat* had lost almost everything as he fled to Jordan and safety, leaving behind his friends, his home and his most treasured possessions. He had found work to support his family – providing the only source of income for them – but his aspirations had to be put aside to do it.
Rifat is six years old.
Tragic for any of us, but truly heartbreaking for a child.
His family of five had found sanctuary in the city of Ain Al Basha- Balqa, far from the bombs and airstrikes that had peppered their homeland, but with Rifat’s father unable to work due to ill health, their situation had been dire.
Despite being so young, Rifat had no choice but to work to help support his family, but the morning shifts meant he had to miss school, desperately trying to catch up in the afternoon when he could get there. His education was sacrificed in order to secure his family’s survival.
In 2016, things changed. An International Medical Corps Case Manager learned of Rifat's situation and met with his family to discuss the issues around child labour and the intricacies of Jordanian labour law, which they were breaking.
These conversations were difficult, and the family expressed their regret – but feared for how they would feed themselves if the child stopped earning the only money they could find.
Their case manager referred them as candidates for a protection system, which is run across the country thanks to aid from the British people. The programme not only provided a secure and dependable source of income for the family, but allowed Rifat to return to school and to his dreams of a positive future.
Name changed on the request of the child’s guardian.