Ninth grade girls escape death, search for life

Here is the first of two entries from one of the most heart wrenching stories I've been involved with in a long time. I met the girls in their class room at a small school in Jordan. One of their teachers is the voice in this piece and also the translator for the girls in and I in the next piece. I was in Jordan and Lebanon in September for The Oregonian with colleague Rich Read. You can see your work here:


The Syrian girls in this ninth-grade class are coming of age during war. It is a mortifying journey. Roqaya lost both parents, her oldest sister and youngest brother in a massacre in Homs. Three of Batool's cousins were killed by snipers. They live as orphans, in camps and broken apartment buildings. Their school in Mafraq, Jordan is a mess, running double shifts, teaching Jordanian kids in the mornings and Syrian kids in the afternoon; all with no additional resources. Suhair Hayek, one of the girls teachers, says she can hardly keep her tears inside her eyes when she thinks about the girls. Some she says, have lost their dreams, some cling to hope. Hayek says what the girls need is a chance to forget their suffering and enjoy their youth. "They escape from death,'' she says. Now, they need to search for life.