Dead to Red Race: "I Am Running for University Students in Syria"

Three years ago, I was studying economics at the University of Damascus. For me, these were the best days of my life. I guess it’s the same everywhere in the world; when we finish high school we choose to study something that really interests us, meet new friends, start to stand on our own two feet and prepare ourselves for the future. I feel that this experience was taken from me.


I felt like I owned the world, like I could do anything. I felt like a bird that was free to fly anywhere it wanted to go to. Then the war started and I fled to Egypt with my family and then to Jordan, where I live now.

More than 10 million Syrians are in desperate need of assistance. They do not have enough to eat; do not have money to pay for their rent or for medication. Of course, meeting these basic needs is most important. We cannot survive without food and medical care.

But, what comes next? What about all the students like me who are missing out on further education? What about all my friends in Damascus who risk their lives every day to learn about the world and to prepare themselves for a life after the war?

On the three year anniversary of the crisis, I will run from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea in Jordan. Together with CARE staff from Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, as well as with other Syrian refugees like me, we will cover a distance of 242 kilometers (150 miles). 

This seems like a long way, but my friends’ journey to the university in Damascus is a lot longer. Last year a bomb hit the university. Seventeen students died. When my friends walk to the university, they hear bombs and bullets. But the promise of education and hope for a better life after this war ends drown out the sounds of war. They risk their lives every day because they refuse to let this crisis to put an end to their dreams, and they are determined to rebuild our country when peace returns to Syria.

My friends’ dream is also my dream. I represent the students of Syria. Syria will need qualified people, and I want to be one of them.

Every day, my best friend Nour sends me Whatsapp or Facebook messages about what she learnt to update me. Some other friends of mine are still studying with her. Others have died, some are in jail, are displaced or refugees like me. Nour is very proud of me and supports me. But she also puts all of her faith in me. “You are our voice. You are the voice of the students who remain in Syria.” I cannot let her down.

I will run for the students of Syria. I want the world to know that Syrians are not only in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, they are not only victims of war. Syrians are smart; they are highly qualified and are doing their best to continue their education even if that means risking their lives in order to do so. 

by Maram, Feb. 2014

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