When Manar stepped onto the cricket pitch for the first time, bat in hand, she was unsure of what to expect.

“I’d never tried it before,” she said. “I’ve only seen it on TV.”

But as she took her first swing at cricket, it turned out she was a natural. “I love it,” she said, a big smile on her face.

Manar, a young Syrian refugee living in the city of Mafraq, Jordan, wasn’t the only newcomer to cricket that day. She was among more than 1,800 students taking part in an event facilitated by UNHCR for refugee children and their host communities.

When young refugees flee crisis, they leave so much behind: friends, school, treasured belongings. Many will spend their entire childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families.

But these young people are also incredibly resilient. By learning, playing and exploring their skills, they can find new ways to cope with their displacement.

Syrian schoolgirl Manar was a natural as she tried her hand at cricket at the 'Cricket Without Boundaries' event in Jordan. © UNHCR/Esna Ong

Sporting events are one way that UNHCR and its partners help to build understanding and friendship between communities and the young people within them.

Just over half of the population of Mafra – located near Jordan’s border with Syria – is made up of Syrian refugees.

The school cricket event reflected those numbers: 871 Jordanian and 951 Syrian students learned all about the sport, sharing the experience as a community.

But the sharing didn’t stop there.

Over the course of the day, Manar and her fellow students had the opportunity to talk about more than just cricket. They were encouraged to share their fears and uncertainties, as well as their hopes for the future.

Refugee and local schoolgirls become friends during a UNHCR-supported cricket event in Jordan. © UNHCR/Esna Ong

When asked about their aspirations, the students described wanting to become doctors and community volunteers, in order to help the elderly and those with disabilities.

Some of the Syrian students even danced and sang traditional songs to share their heritage – and pride in their country – with their Jordanian peers.

Throughout the week, Manar and her classmates stepped up to bat and, together, experienced something new. With a little help, they’re building friendships in a safe place and cheering each other on each day.

With your support, UNHCR is helping young Syrians rebuild their lives through education and community activities.

Please help Syrian refugees thrive, not just survive.
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Despite cricket not being well-known in the Middle East, the students were quick to pick up the game. © UNHCR/Esna Ong

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