Twelve year-old Omar was forced to leave home in Aleppo and flee to Lebanon due to the heavy shelling hitting his town. Currently living in an informal settlement with his family of seven, Omar has to work to support his family. One and a half years ago, Omar's father, who used to drive a taxi back home, had an accident and was severely injured and consequently had to stop working. It has been three years since Omar stopped going to school. He was in the second grade in school and would now need to catch up several years of education to be able to reenrol. After his father's accident, the possibility of returning to school has dwindled even more as his life now is about providing for his family.
"I used to go to school when I was in Aleppo. I used to walk to school holding my siblings' hands. I was so proud I was the oldest. But now I feel much older than my real age," says Omar. "In the war, we lost everything, even my favorite schoolbag," Omar explains.
Omar tells about his daily labour routine. "I wake up every morning, wash my face and feet, which are sore, with cold water to refresh them so I can walk to work," says Omar as he points towards his feet.
"I eat a little snack in the morning: thyme and pepper. I love pepper since we can get it for free. Then, I leave home to go buy gum and tissues so I can sell them to passersby on the highway," he adds.
Being the main breadwinner of his family, Omar feels a lot of weight on his shoulders. "Every day, I go to work worried and scared of not being able to sell anything. How could I go back home with nothing in my hands, not even bread, for my family?!" He adds: "Sometimes, when I don't sell anything, I look for stores with glass panels that I can wash so that I can make some money to buy bread. I am worried all the time. I really can't carry this burden all alone."
"The other day I got up for work, washed my face and feet as usual. When I stepped out of the tent to put on my shoes I saw children in our neighbourhood going to school. I wish I could accompany them some day."
Omar still dreams of going to school just like in the old days. "I wish I was the youngest amongst my siblings so I could stop worrying. Children are not supposed to worry. I want to hold my siblings' hands again and walk to school," he says, with tears in his eyes. "I miss having homework and I miss playing with my siblings. I want to live my childhood again. When I grow up, I would like to be a teacher, but how can I possibly become a teacher without education?“