Desperation and boredom add to the pressure that displaced teens living in temporary collective shelters experience on a daily basis. Often feeling marginalized and insignificant and having lived through intense traumas Palestine refugee teens living in UNRWA shelters voiced their desire to be heard and to share their experiences with their parents and communities. In response to their call, UNRWA ran a theater workshop in partnership with UNICEF. On 22 September, in a room packed with friends and family members, 41 young Palestine refugees from UNRWA collective shelters put on and performed their own play, ‘Reach Your Dreams’, which inspired members of the public and boosted morale.

Many displaced teens struggle to find outlets to describe their experience of loss. All of them have had to flee their homes, leaving behind family members, schoolmates, familiar surroundings and a sense of belonging to a community. As the crisis becomes more protracted, teens are left with few opportunities to find their place and little reason to hope for the situation to improve quickly. The play, ‘Reach Your Dreams’, was a chance to get these young Palestine refugees to speak their minds and tell their stories. The play talks about the dangers that the conflict in Syria poses to students who are striving to remain optimistic about their future, despite the deteriorating situation. It tells the story of students celebrating their national exams over lunch as a mortar lands on the restaurant. The shocking event sets the stage for the actors to talk about the threats they face, and how these affect their daily lives. Despite the profound hardship and adversity they experience, the characters conclude that hope must prevail over fear – and that they will continue to reach for their dreams.

The play left the audience spellbound, with one of the members of the public commenting: “They inspired us with their powerful performance and determination for a better future.” The actors showed off their energy and talents and were finally able to express their feelings to a wide audience.

The UNICEF-funded workshop focused on developing young Palestine refugees’ creative and critical thinking, self-awareness, and problem-solving and communication skills. Such interventions are essential to help adolescents cope with the constant struggles they face growing up in a conflict-ridden country. This psychosocial activity makes up part of the UNRWA response to support Palestine refugee resilience in Syria. This is another illustration of the Agency’s steadfast commitment to provide comprehensive support to Palestine refugees as they continue to live through one of the worst crises in recent decades.