While the concept of the refugee camp has been criticized as a device to merely keep refugees alive, Za’atari’s organizations offer many programs to empower and educate residents—Katrine, a 16-year-old divorcee who advocates for girls to finish education before marriage; Miriam, a 19-year-old photojournalist-to-be who interviews others in the camp; and Abu Yaqub, a 50-year-old security guard who makes sure all thirteen of his children go to school
Syrian resilience is real, and for many right now, the only hope. These are the communities who can rebuild their country upon return or bring ingenuity to new places upon resettlement. In the meantime, organizations should acknowledge the semi-permanence of the “forever temporary” situation and continue their committed presence in residents’ lives. As long as Za’atari is dismissed as merely a refugee camp, all of its residents’ potential will be just that: potential.