"I want to have a family and treat them in a good way."

Elyas and ‘Mr Hani’, SOS co-worker Hani Safadi, play ball at the SOS Children’s Villages emergency centre in Khenshara, Lebanon. Photographer: Bjørn-Owe Holmberg

Elyas*, 8, lived with his mom, dad and siblings until his parents divorced. He was sent to live with his grandfather, who beat him. After war forced the family to flee to Lebanon, he ran away.

Someone found him and brought him to the SOS Children’s Villages emergency centre in Khenshara.
When Elyas arrived at SOS Children’s Villages, he took a shower and carried on with his day, appearing to feel right at home.
He says: “I like SOS and I’m happy. They’re giving me education, toys, and taking me on trips. SOS has taught me to respect people and be polite. I want to stay in Lebanon, because SOS will send me to school and I will get education, and the SOS teachers will visit me, and I will remember Mr Hani and Mr Naim, and Mr Ramzi.
Elyas says he would like to stay in Lebanon, because all he remembers from Syria is shootings, explosions and bombs.
About his future, he says: “When I grow up I want to become a teacher, then own a gas station and buy myself a car with a powerful engine to go on trips and do stunts.”
He has also learned the values of caring for someone: “I want to have a family and treat them in a good way.”

Story told by the photographer Bjørn-Owe Holmberg.
Published 16 September 2015

*The child's name has been changed for privacy.

Read another child refugee's story.

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