International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Syrian girls in Jordan step into their future [PHOTOS]

Update Feb. 2, 2015: BBC News and Buzzfeed featured photos from the International Rescue Committee's Vision not Victim program. Read more about the program in our special Medium feature: Even war won’t stop these girls from making their dreams come true.

Syrian girls living in Jordan have experienced the trauma of their country’s civil war, the loss of loved ones and their homes and the struggle to survive in a new country. They also face a disproportionate amount of harassment and exploitation, and often are prevented from getting an education.

The International Rescue Committee's Vision not Victim program gives these young refugees the skills and support they need to build a better future for themselves. Each program culminates in a photo shoot. Every girl designs and directs her own shoot where she poses as her future self — achieving a goal. Whenever possible, we try to do these shoots on location, in actual working environments, so girls can meet people in their envisioned field and truly step into their future.

Here are just a few of the girls’ photos, taken by Vision not Victim founder Meredith Hutchison:

Future Astronaut: Haja, 12

“Ever since we studied the solar system in primary school, I have wanted to be an astronaut. I would imagine myself up in the sky discovering new things. I love being an astronaut because it lets me see the world from a new angle. In this society my path was not easy – many people told me a girl can’t become an astronaut. Now that I have achieved my goals, I would tell young girls with aspirations to not be afraid, to talk to their parents about what they want and why, to always be confident and know where you want to go.” 

Future Surgeon: Fatima, 11



"In this image, I am examining an x-ray of a patient to see what is causing the pain in her chest. At this point in my life I am a well-respected surgeon in the region. I treat many patients, but the patient I care most about – the one that drove me to be a doctor – is my father, who has lots of medical issues. To be able to help my father, this makes me feel strong, powerful, and capable."

Future Architect: Fatima, 16



"I’ve always wanted to be an architect. Yet, when I was young people told me that this is not something a woman could achieve, and they encouraged me to pursue a more ‘feminine’ profession. But I dreamt constantly of making beautiful homes for families, and designing buildings that bring people joy. Now that I’ve reached my vision, I hope I am a model for other girls—showing them that you should never give up on your dream - no matter what others say."

Future Doctor: Rama, 13



"Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering – sick or injured – and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them. Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability. Easing someone’s pain is the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief and make them smile – this is what I love most."

Future Pilot: Amani, 10



"I love planes. Even before I had ever been on a plane, I knew I wanted to be a pilot. Flying is adventurous and exciting. When I was younger, my brother always told me that a girl can’t be a pilot, but I knew deep down this is what I wanted to do. I finished my studies and found a way to get to flight school. Now, not only do I get to live my dream, but I also get to help people travel, to see the world, and discover new places."

Future Teacher: Fatima, 12



"In this image, it is the early morning and I am waiting in my classroom for my students to arrive. I teach younger children to read and write Arabic. I am a very compassionate and kind person, and so a perfect teacher. I am strict, but I go out of my way to gently help those students who are having difficulties."

Future Photographer: Muntaha, 12

"Since I was a young girl, I loved taking people's photographs. I loved going to different events and documenting what was happening—both the good and bad. Now, as a professional photographer, I use my images to inspire hope in others - to encourage love and understanding." 

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