Tabarak's story

Updated Jun 15, 2018

The Fragile Seven Series

Seven examples of countries in crisis. Seven girls, coming of age amidst unthinkable circumstances. They share a common courage, in the face of danger and deprivation. And they share something else: an urgent need for education. For all vulnerable children – especially, girls – education offers a lifeline to safety for today and hope for the future tomorrow.  

Part 7. Tabarak, Iraq

Even before armed groups came crashing into her town in the Kurdish region of Iraq, Tabarak’s education was pulled to an abrupt halt.

She had just started school – and was loving it. The six-year-old girl had learned sports and made a best friend. In Canada, she might have been well on her way to success.

But conflict was marching closer and closer to Tabarak's community. And unsettling ideas of war preceded it, disturbing the way of life. As often happens in times of war, the school's curriculum, a key force in shaping the children's thinking, was rapidly changing.

A couple and their five children sit on the floor inside a tent.
Tabarak sits inside her tent at the camp in with her parents and four brothers and sisters.

So, Tabarak’s parents made the decision to remove their eldest child from school. It couldn’t have been an easy one. In a region of the world where girls have traditionally struggled to gain access to education, their daughter would be forfeiting that opportunity.

As things turned out, she would have had to leave school anyway.

Six months after Tabarak hung up her school bag, newly arrived forces placed her entire family under house arrest. For the next two years, the family relied on relatives to bring them provisions.

But, although she had food to eat, Tabarak went hungry in other ways. She longed for the school she remembered, where girls studied math and spiked volleyballs. She missed her best friend.

A family of seven stand outside their tent in a refugee camp.
Tabarak and her family stand freely outside their tent at the camp for internally displaced people. Before coming here, armed forces placed the family on house arrest for two years.

After a frantic escape in the middle of the night, the family is now safe in a camp for internally displaced people. But the clock is ticking on Tabarak’s learning years. She is now nine-years-old.

Today, like Tabarak, millions of girls are growing up in camps and settlements for people forced to flee their homes and schools. That loss of learning is a heartbreak no words can adequately describe.

“I miss my school,” is all Tabarak can say. Her eyes tell the rest of the story.

Who knows what potential this girl holds, to teach, design, invent, solve, cure, fly or lead? Without education, the world may never find out.
We are thrilled by the global commitment of $3.86B pledged at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec for educating girls in crisis so girls like Tabarak will have the chance to shape their own futures through education.