Young Syrian Refugees Dressed As Disney Princesses Will Hurt Your Heart


An artist by the name of Saint Hoax recently found his way to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon, bringing with him kid-sized costumes of iconic Disney princesses. 

The refugee kids, dressed as Disney princesses, spoke of their dreams and hopes for the future. 

As you could imagine, it’s a heartbreaking juxtaposition of where these kids are and where they would like to be, but it also speaks to the effect the refugee crisis has on the right of a child to grow up in comfort without fearing for their lives. That’s a right that these children haven’t experienced, and Saint Hoax hopes to make that known with his hashtag campaign #onceuponawar

She dreamt of being a princess, among other things Lawyer, teacher, a poet who sings engineer, pilot, movie star Her dreams could go very, very far But not once did she dream to be a fugitive, immigrant or a refugee Her life took an unexpected turn as she watched the city around her burn She had to put her dreams on hold and watch them fade as she got old As years passed by, she realized She missed out on most of her life Never got to be a princess among other things lawyer, teacher, a poet who sings Engineer, pilot, nor movie star Her dreams had to end, once upon a war The girls will be taking over my Snapchat starting tomorrow to share their lives with you (username: SaintHoax) THE END #OnceUponAWar

A photo posted by Saint Hoax (@sainthoax) on Mar 6, 2016 at 11:09am PST

Sleeping Beauty was the first fairytale that Manar ever read. It became her favorite ever since. Her dream is to become a doctor. Wouroud loves Snow White’s calmness and kindness. These are qualities that she really appreciates. She’s fascinated with other cultures and her dream is to become a sociologist. Manar and Wouroud are both 20 years old. They met in the camp 2 years ago and have been inseparable ever since. They consider their friendship to be the best thing that came out of this war. They work together as teachers at the camp and they helped us organize this project. @malaakngo @plastikstudios #OnceUponAWar

A photo posted by Saint Hoax (@sainthoax) on Mar 6, 2016 at 10:59am PST

Cinderella is a dreamer and so is Maram (age 16). She believes in a brighter tomorrow. When we talked about the war, she managed to remember only the good parts out of this tragic experience. Maram loves kids and she takes care of most of the children at the camp. Her dream is to become a children’s nurse. Hiba (age 2) was born in Lebanon. She has never been to Syria and this is the only life she has ever known. She never watched any Cinderella film but her parents told her the story. When we showed her the Cinderella dress, she chose it out of all the other dresses. This was the first time that Hiba got to put on a costume and play pretend. @malaakngo @plastikstudios #OnceUponAWar

A photo posted by Saint Hoax (@sainthoax) on Mar 6, 2016 at 10:27am PST

Bayan (age 12) chose the Sleeping Beauty dress because it reminded her of a similar dress that she once had. When Bayan and her family left their home 3 years ago, they had to leave everything behind. That was the last time she ever saw her pink dress. Raghad (age 12) loves Frozen because it highlights the relationship between two sisters. She’s extremely attached to her sister and would do anything to protect her, just like Elsa. Mona (age 11) has 2 favorite princesses, Jasmine and Belle. She chose Jasmine because she’s an Arabian princess, and Belle because of her intelligence. Both princesses are strong and adventurous and Mona relates to that. Bayan, Raghad and Mona all met in the camp 3 years ago. They became close friends ever since. Their dream is to become teachers. @malaakngo @plastikstudios #OnceUponAWar

A photo posted by Saint Hoax (@sainthoax) on Mar 6, 2016 at 10:03am PST

We had the most delightful experience with Aya (age 6). After we took her pictures, she sneaked into her house and changed into another dress. 10 minutes later, she came back to get her picture taken again. She told us “no one took pictures of me yet”. Of course we recognized her, but we took more pictures of her anyway. She loves being in front of the camera, and her dream is to become an actress. Beauty and the Beast is Aya’s favorite fairytale. She styled her hair to look exactly like Belle in this shot. @malaakngo @plastikstudios #OnceUponAWar

A photo posted by Saint Hoax (@sainthoax) on Mar 6, 2016 at 9:33am PST

As a result of the Syrian civil war, 4.6 million Syrians have become refugees. As a Syrian citizen myself and as a human, I felt the need to help. MALAAK, an NGO providing aid and education for Syrian refugees, granted me the privilege to collaborate with a group of girls who are temporarily residing in a refugee camp in Akkar, Lebanon. “Once Upon a War” is the outcome of my life-altering encounter with these girls. Most of them never got the chance to play pretend because their reality is over dominating. It is why @PlastikStudios and I decided to throw a costume party in the camp. They got to dress up as their favorite Disney princesses and talk about their aspirations. These girls are real life heroines and I am honored that I got the chance to dream with them. As a celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8), we wanted the girls to document their lives over the next week. We gave them a Snapchat workshop, and they will be taking over my Snapchat account ( SaintHoax ) starting tomorrow to share their stories with the world. How you can help: Due to war and displacement, the education of most refugee girls is disrupted. This often leads to sexual and gender-based violence, increased risks of exploitation, and early marriage/pregnancy. It’s highly important to educate and empower girls in refugee camps. You can help by donating to @MalaakNGO (Link in bio). #OnceUponAWar

A photo posted by Saint Hoax (@sainthoax) on Mar 6, 2016 at 9:09am PST

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