On Christmas Day 2013, Dieme’s life changed forever.
The 8-year-old’s hometown in Democratic Republic of Congo was attacked by a rebel group. Thousands in the area, including Dieme’s family, were forced to leave their lives behind and flee to neighboring Uganda.
Dieme’s story was featured by the children’s rights organization on World Refugee Day last Friday, to draw attention to people around the world who’ve been forced to leave their countries due to war, persecution or natural disaster. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are about 15.4 million of them worldwide.
Even at his young age, Dieme knows well the importance of an education and is determined to stay in school. Unfortunately, the only way he can do so is to cross back into his home country, which is still dangerously unstable due to rebel group infiltration. His class is outdoors, with several desks huddled under the shade of a few trees, one chalkboard resting in front of him and his classmates.
Dieme is just one of hundreds of child refugees from Congo willing to risk their lives in order to better their tomorrows.
“It’s better to die trying to get an education than staying at home without a good future,” Dieme said the video.
Dieme’s profound words highlight how child refugees around the world value schooling — especially once it’s taken away from them.
Mohammad, a 12-year-old Syrian, was forced into working long days at a shop in Jordan to support his family after being forced from his home country due to civil conflict. Because his family depends on his income, he can no longer attend school.
“I used to be able to write. Here, I forgot everything,” Mohammad said in a video produced by UNICEF. “I can’t even hold my pencil.”
Mohammad is just one of approximately 1.1 million Syrian children — many under the age of 12 — who’ve been ripped away from their homes. Many of them are working in dangerous, forced labor conditions.
“I like coming to school so that I can become intelligent,” Dieme said in the video by Save the Children. “[An education] can help you. If you are poor, you can leave behind your poverty and become rich like the other rich ones. And when you become rich, you can educate your children to become intelligent.”
To learn more about World Refugee Day and take action, visit Save the Children’s website.