Schoolgirl’s mission to help refugees

Bedford High School pupil Ella Masri, who is heading to Jordan to help refugees from the Syrian civil war in April
Bedford High School pupil Ella Masri, who is heading to Jordan to help refugees from the Syrian civil war in April

A KIND-HEARTED schoolgirl is heading to the Middle East on an extraordinary mercy missions to ease the desperate plight of Syrian refugees.

Bedford High School pupil Ella Masri volunteered to work at an enormous refugee camp in Jordan after seeing horrific reports of civilians suffering due to the brutal civil war in Syria.

Ella was so moved by TV news footage of the conflict that she decided she had to help out herself, signing up with charity Helping Refugees in Jordan to work at the Zaatari camp.

Ella, 16, will fly to the troubled region in April to try to help more than 144,000 people living in the temporary camp after fleeing their homes.

Ella was particularly saddened by the appalling humanitarian situation in the area as she has previously visited both Syria and Jordan before war broke out.

She said: “I visited the capital of Syria, Damascus, in 2008 when my mother was studying Arabic literature there.

“To me it was a magical, vibrant and exciting place. A beautiful city full of wonderful things to see and do and friendly, happy and welcoming people. Now it seems all that has gone and it looks like the entire country has been ruined by the war.

“When I saw what was happening I felt I had to do something to help the people who are suffering. For me it is the plight of the children that is particularly distressing. Many of them have been forced to flee their homes and are now orphans.”

Year 11 pupil Ella admits to being somewhat apprehensive about what she may see during her two-week stay in Jordan, where she will stay in the capital Amman and travel each day to the refugee camp which has become the country’s fourth-largest city.

She is hoping family connections and her fluency in Arabic will help her when meeting refugees, and is currently fund-raising at school to help meet travel and accommodation costs as well as finding the £2,000 she will help distribute at Zaatari.

Ella said: “I am a bit nervous about the trip and what I might find while I am out there but I am also keen to get there and to help out.

“My parents and family are supporting me and we have friends in the region who will also be able to help me when I arrive.

“People may say that this is quite a serious subject for a young person to be involved with and that I should leave it to the adults to sort out, but from what I can see the adults can’t do enough on their own so we all need to help.”

Before jetting off for the Middle East Ella is holding a number of events at Bedford, including a car wash and bake sale, and she has also set up a fund-raising page for people to donate.

Bedford headteacher Helen Phillips also gave her backing to Ella’s trip and praised her willingness to help other people.

She said: “Ella’s determination to help shows a great degree of responsibility and maturity and her actions show great courage.

“We are happy to support Ella with her fund-raising and we know she will be taking the best wishes of all our students and staff with her when she goes.”

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