“I hope to achieve my dream.”

Images of Aleppo’s devastation have gone round the globe, so how do you live a normal life in the war-torn city?

11-year-old Wissam wants to be a doctor when he grows up, but for now an ordinary life is his dream. 

Wissam is one of 2,962 children in the war-torn city of Aleppo in Syria who enjoy Mary’s Meals each day at school.  

Although there is no longer fighting in the streets, many buildings have been reduced to rubble, sources of electricity and running water have been damaged or destroyed, and families are struggling to put food on the table.   

The sandwich and piece of fresh fruit that Wissam and his friends receive at school helps to feed both their bodies and their minds.  

This is his story in his own words – a search for regularity, routine and an ordinary way of life:  

“I live with my family. My dad works and my mum looks after us. She makes the food and does the cleaning. 

“I have four sisters. I’m the oldest. I help my mum to look after my sisters and I help them to do their school work. 

“It takes me 10 minutes to walk to the school. We live in a small house near the school, and I like it. We used to live in another place before the war. 

“Some children can’t go to school because of the war. Life is boring without school. If I didn’t go to school, I’d miss my friends and the meal I am receiving. I have wonderful friends at school and I like the teachers.  

“I want to be a doctor in the future. For this, I have to learn many subjects. My favourite subject is maths.  

“I like to learn and have fun at school. The food at school gives me more energy to study and to play with my friends. 

“I enjoy the school meal, especially the bananas. The best thing about it is that we get fruit that we can’t afford to buy. At home, we eat rice, vegetables and olives. The food comes from charity.   

“In the future, I hope to achieve my dream to be a doctor and help other people.”