a teen who fled syria had high hopes for her life in lebanon: #15girls - black plastic sheeting
15-said: "I really want to go back to school . "year-
Because of work, work, work. . . .
Life is more than work.
"But that's how she lives now.
Fatmeh was once a top student at her school in Syria.
Now she works in the fields of the fertile Bekaa Valley, picking vegetables, picking weeds and taking care of crops.
When the foreman thought she and other children in the field were not working hard enough, he hit them with black plastic tubes.
Three years ago, Fatmeh was a typical teenager.
"My life in Syria is very beautiful, very beautiful.
"I swear to God, it's really beautiful," said Fatmai, who sits in a shed made of oil cloth, plastic cloth and recycled wood at home.
She fiddled with the end of a black turban, loosely sketching her face.
Fatmeh said they have a big house surrounded by gardens in Syria.
Her father teaches high school.
Geography, Sociology, History
Her mother took care of the family.
Fatmeh has his own computer.
Her life is all about school.
Class, friends and homework.
She is an excellent student who loves Arabic literature.
But the civil war is slowly getting closer and closer to their towns until in the end there are battles all around them, "bombs and battles are everywhere," Fatmeh said.
"We lost the husband of a neighbor, a cousin and aunt.
Our house next door was bombed.
So we left to survive.
"The family ran west, and Fatmeh and her sister held their younger brothers and sisters tightly.
They walked in the field for a day and slept with a group of shepherds.
In the end, they took a car to the Lebanese border behind a truck.
They ended up in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, between Damascus and Beirut.
This valley is the wine country of Lebanon and the agricultural granary of Lebanon.
It is now home to thousands of Syrian refugees living in temporary shelters in informal camps.
"We want to go home and go to Syria," Fatmeh said . ".
What she calls "home" refers to pre-war Syria.
"I have a dream that when I come to Lebanon I will study here, go to school here and be an Arabic teacher here," Fatmeh said . ", She sat on the floor of the cottage with her parents and six siblings. "And then [I hoped]
My dream came true when I returned to Syria.
But I'm not working at all here.
"Now: work, work, WorkNow her life is consumed by work in the fields and cooking at home, cleaning and taking care of her younger brother and sister.
Her parents did not allow her to go out alone in the camp.
One of her connections to the outside world is her mobile phone.
She uses it to keep up with news about Syria, and sometimes when she is alone, she likes to record her own songs about her country.
Chowk, Fatmeh's mother, said she wanted her children to go to school, but her family had no choice. "What can we do? " asks Chowk.
"We are forced to work.
Fatmeh's family is in debt trouble.
When they arrived three years ago, a Lebanese landowner offered to help them.
He paid the driver to transport them from the border.
He asked them to camp on his land with hundreds of other Syrian refugees.
He lent them money and bought materials to build a humble house.
He gave them food on credit at the store.
Fatmeh and her family are paying him back with the only thing they have --their labor.
According to Chowk, she and her four siblings work 14 hours a day in the land owner's field, but the family still owes him about $2,000.
They asked us not to use their surnames for fear of their security and the safety of their families still in Syria.
Landowner Fader Yassin, who owns a man's leather skin, worked and smoked long hours in the sun from an early age.
Yassin, sitting in his grocery store with canned meat and beans behind him, said he was very generous to Syrians.
When he took out a thick black book, he said, "Look, look at this . ".
In the book, he recorded how much each refugee family owed him.
"I am patient with them, but the debt is growing and I need my money," he said . ".
He said he was the only one who helped them.
This is not entirely true, but international food aid to refugees has indeed fallen sharply this year.
When we asked Fatmeh specifically
How much did she make and how much did her family owe
Yasin waved his cigarette impatiently in the air.
"Everyone is fat!
"They are all fat men," he shouted.
He insists that Fatmeh is no different from the hundreds of other Syrians who live on his land.
Fatmeh and her siblings work seven days a week in Yassine's field.
At 5: 30 in the morning, they climbed to the back of a truck, which later in the day was filled with bags of vegetables.
They pick onions some days.
Other days are cucumbers or potatoes.
If there are a lot of produce to harvest, they often work until 7 or 8 in the evening.
On a typical day, they end at three o'clock P. M.
Fatmeh earns about $8 a day
She never saw the money though.
The landlord deducted her salary directly from the debt at home.
The labor force has run out for Fatmeh and she is too tired to go back to the ground some days.
On a clear Saturday morning, we went to a field in Assin to find Fatma.
Nazir, Yassin's son, is overseeing the selection of potatoes by about 30 Syrians. Some are women.
Most of them are children, including several brothers and sisters of Fatmai.
Fatmeh came to work in the morning, but left early because of illness.
The youngest child in the field is seven years old.
"Foreman, he likes young children because they collect faster," said Bochra, Fatmeh's sister . ". Bouchra is 18.
Like many older girls, she wrapped a scarf on her face to block the sun and dust.
"They like the children because they are faster," Bochra said . ".
"Parents don't like it, but they are forced to send their children.
"The foreman Yassin walked through the soil that had just been plowed in the potato field and turned a hard plastic irrigation hose.
The children call the hose a "stick ".
"If the kids slow down or don't have enough space, Yassin will hit them.
Yassine explained after hitting 8-"this stick won't hurt your bodyyear-
"But for the kids, it's a tool that scares them.
You know, the kids are very small and very scared, so [with this]
They can work more.
It does not hurt at all;
Don't worry about children.
"A few minutes later, when a 9-year-
Yassine pressed the boy by his ear, and the old man stood up straight instead of scrambling to buy more potatoes.
The boy screamed in the soil and collapsed.
The boy buried his head in his forearm and sobbed out of humiliation and pain.
The boy's mother was also working in the field, and she looked elsewhere.
The dream of recalling this bleak life in Lebanon did not completely defeat Fatmeh.
She said she still had a "very small hope" that one day she would be able to go back to school and eventually go to college.
"Hope is small," she said . "
"I really want to go back to school.
"But the civil war in Syria is not over, these 15-year-
In the fields of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, the old man's dream is disappearing. Being a 15-year-
No matter where you live, the old girl will be strong.
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