Reposted from NBC News:
Hazar Mahayni, a 63 year-old pharmacist and grandmother is a Syrian native, but has lived in Canada for decades. She started Al Salam school two years ago in Reyhanli, Turkey, expecting to accommodate 300 children in grades 1 through 9. But more than 900 prospective students showed up on the first day alone. Six months ago, when we first visited Al Salam, the number had grown to 1200. This fall, 800 more students came to enroll- including 500 in grades 10-12.
“Education for me is life. It’s more important for any child than food or clothes. When I see any child begging in the street or abused by child labor or having no hope, I’m really scared,” says Mahayni. The rise of ISIS in the region, and the ongoing wars between extremist groups, rebel groups and the Syrian government forces, make education even more important Mahayni says. “I’m very worried about what’s going on in the world with ISIS and terrorism,” she says. “I feel it’s so easy to slip into this dangerous group and be one of them” Education is the surest way to offer an alternative in a desperate situation, she says.
“When you save a teenager from the street and give him hope, education makes him believe that we care about him and his future,” she explains. “He will take care of himself. He will not go to explode himself to die for nothing. When I see my students in the school here I feel that they are more safe than when they are in the street because if they feel they are worthless they might do anything crazy and dangerous.” The war will not end anytime soon, and Mahyani wants to prepare her students for that. “When you hear the news and how it’s gong inside Syria, it’s worse everyday,” she says. “So I want to prepare the students that it will take a long time. Maybe years. Maybe I will never see my home again.”