The Gymnast in Aleppo: Zeinab Shurom
Zeinab Shurom started training for gymnastics at eight-years-old. Her interest in the sport started from watching videos on YouTube. Zeinab's father supported her interest in gymnastics. He opened a small sports center in central Aleppo, where children in their community could train with coaches.
In December 2016, the escalating war changed everything. Airstrikes killed some of her friends from school and gymnastics. After the airstrikes, she and her family fled for rural Aleppo, closing the sports center. For months after their escape, Zeinab suffered from the trauma of losing her friends and a normal life.
Now, as a twelve-year-old, Zeinab dreams of a life far from the war in Syria. She wants to continue her education and pursue international gymnastic tournaments. Zeinab has even started practicing gymnastics again. She trains other displaced children, learning patience and the joys of teaching others.
Ahed Festuk, Assistant Coordinator of Public Outreach at Multifaith Alliance of Alliance for Syrian Refugees, interviewed Zeinab Shurom about the young gymnast's life in Syria.
Zeinab Shurom: My name is Zeinab Shurom. I'm 12-years-old. I'm from Aleppo, Syria.
Ahed Festuk: Where do you live now?
Zeinab Shurom: I live in Al-Atareb in the countryside of western Aleppo. I was displaced from Aleppo because of the siege, and the suffering from hunger— and the daily bombardments on my city by the Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes.
Ahed Festuk: What was it like experiencing displacement?
Zeinab Shurom: I faced a lot of challenges after we were displaced from Aleppo— and because of the bombardments and the permanent airstrikes— I couldn’t study well, and I couldn’t go to to my coach for training.
Ahed Festuk: How did you start gymnastics?
Zeinab Shurom: My father opened a small training center when we were in Aleppo, and there was a special sports coach. I started training with him.
I watched gymnastic videos on YouTube all the time. I liked the aerobic movements and the body's flexibility.
Ahed Festuk: Have you learned anything new from teaching other people gymnastics?
Zeinab Shurom: I learned how to love children and how to be close to them— and to be patient.
Ahed Festuk: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Zeinab Shurom: My dream is to become a coach and to train displaced children who have left their homes.
Ahed Festuk: Do you any message to tell children in the United States?
Zeinab Shurom: I wish I had a life like other children, to be in a secure place and far from the war. I would love to participate in international gymnastic tournaments, and to continue my education.
Syrian Voices is a new video series created by MFA to share the personal stories of people affected by the crisis. By letting Syrians speak in their own words, Syrian Voices aims to help us all better understand the impact of the humanitarian crisis and share the lives, challenges, aspirations, strengths, and successes of the Syrian people.
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