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Refugee Week: Malak, a young refugee from Syria tells her story

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Malak and her mum

This week is International Refugee Week, and throughout the week, we are putting the spotlight on some of the refugees that have settled in Dorset.

Today we hear from Malak, 15, from a village called Sarkha in Syria.

She and her family had to leave their home in 2013 because of the war, when she was just 4 years old.

She says:  "During the war and bombing, my grandparents’ house was a safe place for our whole village. Their home was the only one with a basement so the whole village would try to fit into it to keep safe. I can still remember my home and how it looked.

"When the soldiers came, it was dark, and they told us we should prepare to leave. We had no power, so my mother had to wait for it to get light outside and only had a few hours to pack our documents and the most important things. My mother had never left Syria and didn’t even have a passport.

"We travelled a long and difficult journey to Lebanon to reach a place of safety. We travelled by bus and walked a very long way with bombing going on around us. Once we reached Lebanon, we managed to rent a house and settle for a few years until we came to live in the UK.

"I can remember my journey to the UK so well even though I was only a small child. When we arrived, it was very cold and snowy, so we all needed coats to keep us warm.

"Shaftesbury has become our special home since we arrived, we love to live in the countryside, and it feels just like our village in Syria. I now have a younger brother and we are all settled into school and nursery. I recently received an award from my school, I love to learn, and I know I am working for my future. I feel safe here in the UK, it is fair, we have equality and rights.

"I am involved in the youth council and town improvement group and go to Taekwondo every week. I listen to K POP, and I like Anime art. I still listen to Arabic music and watch tv shows.

"Some things still feel strange - my English is good, but it still feels strange to read from left to right and I’m not a fan of the weather sometimes. It can be difficult to find halal food too, but I am good at checking the labels for mum and to make sure I can buy sweets!

"When I am older, I hope to go to university and learn to drive like mum, but I don’t think I will ever want to leave home, being together as a family is very important. I might have to take them to university with me!

"If I had one other wish for the future it would be for the war to end and for my family to come back together."