Refugee Girls Got To Dress Up As What They Want To Be When They Grow Up

“When I was younger, my brother always told me that a girl can’t be a pilot, but I knew deep down this is what I wanted to do.”

1. The United Nations has registered almost 4.6 million refugees from Syria since fighting broke out in the country several years ago. Of those, almost 2.4 million are 17 and under.

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

2. The International Rescue Committee recently sent photographer Meredith Hutchison to meet with young girls in two refugee camps in Jordan and ask them about their hopes and dreams.

The project, called Vision Not Victim, saw the girls draw pictures of what they want to be when they grew up, now that they have escaped war.

Each girl then participated in a photo shoot based on the drawings to pose as their grown-up selves. They were even given copies of the photos to show their families and keep with them as a reminder of their goals.

Here are some of the photos, along with words from the girls writing as their future selves:

3. Fatima, 12, future teacher

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“In this image, it is the early morning and I am waiting in my classroom for my students to arrive. I teach younger children to read and write Arabic. I am a very compassionate and kind person, and so a perfect teacher. I am strict, but I go out of my way to gently help those students who are having difficulties.”

5. Malack, 16, future police officer

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I’ve always wanted to be a policewoman because the police not only keep people safe, but they also create justice in society. Every day I wake up, go to the station, and then head out into the city to see where I can help. I also work to inspire other young girls to become policewomen — supporting them to dream about their future and thinking about how they will overcome obstacles.”

7. Fatima, 11, future surgeon

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“In this image, I am examining an X-ray of a patient to see what is causing the pain in her chest. At this point in my life I am a well-respected surgeon in the region. I treat many patients, but the patient I care most about — the one that drove me to be a doctor — is my father, who has lots of medical issues. To be able to help my father, this makes me feel strong, powerful, and capable.”

9. Muntaha, 12, future photographer

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“Since I was a young girl I loved taking people’s photographs. I loved going to different events and documenting what was happening — both the good and bad. Now, as a professional photographer I use my images to inspire hope in others — to encourage love and understanding.”

11. Rama, 13, future doctor

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering — sick or injured — and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them. Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability. Easing someone’s pain is the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief and make them smile — this is what I love most.”

13. Fatima, 16, future architect

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

I’ve always wanted to be an architect. Yet, when I was young people told me that this is not something a woman could achieve, and they encouraged me to pursue a more ‘feminine’ profession. But I dreamt constantly of making beautiful homes for families, and designing buildings that bring people joy. Now that I’ve reached my vision, I hope I am a model for other girls — showing them that you should never give up on your dream — no matter what others say.

15. Merwa, 13, future painter

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“In this image, I am a popular painter, working on a landscape in oils. When I was younger, painting was a hobby — but as I grew older I saw I had a great talent and went to art school. Now I have my own gallery where I sell my paintings and sculptures. My hope is that my artwork inspires peace in the world and encourages people to be kind to one another.”

17. Haja, 12, future astronaut

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“Ever since we studied the solar system in primary school, I have wanted to be an astronaut. I would imagine myself up in the sky discovering new things. I love being an astronaut because it lets me see the world from a new angle. In this society my path was not easy — many people told me a girl can’t become an astronaut. Now that I have achieved my goals, I would tell young girls with aspirations to not be afraid, to talk to their parents about what they want and why, to always be confident and know where you want to go.”

19. Fatima, 11, future police officer

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I am a kind, yet serious policewoman who is respected and a role model in the community. People are not afraid of me, but call me when they are in trouble. I teach them how to respect and love one another. I fight for justice. I help the innocent.”

21. Bassima, 17, future chef

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I have always found great pleasure in cooking. When I was young, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mother — learning how to create different dishes. I was really good at it. Now as a chef, I have my own restaurant where I create the menu, and a shop where I make and serve different dairy products like milk, cheeses, and yogurt.”

23. Nour, 16, future lawyer

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I want violence against women to end. I want women to be able to make decisions for the community, and say their opinion without fear. I want our society to open up and give space for women to be whoever they want to be. This is why I decided to become a lawyer. When I was younger, my mother told me I was courageous and truthful, and that I could be a great lawyer who fought injustice. I took her advice, and now am a respected lawyer working on women’s rights and defending women who are victims of domestic violence.”

25. Amani, 10, future pilot

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I love planes. Even before I had ever been on a plane, I knew I wanted to be a pilot. Flying is adventurous and exciting. When I was younger, my brother always told me that a girl can’t be a pilot, but I knew deep down this is what I wanted to do. I finished my studies and found a way to get to flight school. Now, not only do I get to live my dream, but I also get to help people travel, to see the world, and discover new places.”

27. Hiba, 9, future pediatrician

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I have always wanted to help children, and this is what drove me to be a pediatrician. I am kind and loving, and therefore an excellent doctor that children can trust.”

29. Nesrine, 11, future police officer

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“I saw a policewoman for the first time when I was 11 — before that I hadn’t considered it as a career. At that moment of my life I wasn’t even going to school — I just had no interest. But once I decided this was my dream, I studied hard and pursued it. Now that I am a policewoman, I help many people who are in danger or trouble, and I encourage young girls to get their education so that they can reach their goals.”

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David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at

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