Documentary revisiting three remarkable Syrian refugee children whose lives in Za'atari refugee camp featured in award-winning 2015 documentary My Life: The Boy on the Bicycle.
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In 2015, we met three amazing kids,
who lived in the world's largest refugee camp.
Hi, my name's Ahmed, I am 16 years old.
Ahmed loved the freedom of his bike.
I want to go from the end to the other.
It will take maybe one hour on the bicycle.
Ola was football crazy.
Hello, my name is Ali, I am 12 years old.
And Ali was a great teacher.
Always do homework.
They had to leave their homes in Syria because of the war there.
They made it to Zaatari, a refugee camp in Jordan,
a country near the border with Syria.
Everyone was safe in the camp, but their lives were on hold.
One day I will fly out of this camp.
Now that they are two years older, we've come back to look for them...
-The day before we left the camp, we were excited to leave.
But when the time came to say goodbye, I wanted to stay.
..to see how their lives have changed.
I am also one of 5 million people who left Syria
because of the war there.
But my family managed to get out
and we came to the UK.
THEY SHOUT HAPPILY
Ali's classes for his friends were always packed.
B, C, D, E, F, G...
"My name is Karim."
-Two years on, Ali is now the new boy on the bicycle.
-I live in the Zaatari camp and I'm 14 years old.
And Ali would like us to meet someone new in his family.
-This is my new brother Majid,
and this is my father and this is my mother
and this is my brother Hamse, and my brother Ahmed.
Majid was born in the camp 18 months ago.
-When I get on my big bike, he wants to get on it with me.
But he doesn't let me get close to his bike!
With another baby,
Ali's family decided to stay in the camp
until it's safe to go home to Syria.
At the camp in 2015,
we met the striker in the girls' football team...
While Ola and her brothers and sisters were in the camp,
her dad managed to get to Germany,
so that he could give his children a better life.
Now Ola and her family live in Germany, too.
-Here is my sister Noura,
my brother Bilal,
my dad, my mum
and my little brother.
Ola is at school in Germany and she has made new friends with other
refugees who have made it to Europe.
We didn't know anything about school here.
But I met three of the best teachers and their teaching is excellent.
Are you all well today?
Ola has been here for about a year,
and her German is really good for such a short period of time.
I have a lot of respect for her.
SHE SPEAKS GERMAN
When Ola lived in the camp, school was in a tent.
They could only go for four hours a day and there were so many girls
in every class!
School in Germany is a change for the better.
SHE SPEAKS GERMAN
I love my teachers.
They are very supportive
and treat us all equally.
When the bombing started in their home in Syria,
Ola's family had to walk many miles to the refugee camp in Jordan.
Everything they owned had to be left behind in the desert,
even her precious football.
But she's making up for it now.
I have improved a lot in football.
In Jordan, I didn't play with boys, so it has been quite tricky.
Ola is still football mad, and she gets even more goals!
Hi, my name is Ahmed, I am 16 years old, I am from Syria.
Two years ago, Ahmed spent his time cycling around the camp,
whenever he could.
I feel the same feeling like him
because he looks up and down and around him
and he says, "What is this?
It's only just a cage for him.
He would like to fly away and be free.
But he can't, cos he is in a cage right now.
I'm in the same situation as him
cos I think I'm in a cage in this camp.
I don't have a chance or a space for me to fly,
and just spread my wings.
Recently, Ahmed and his family did just that.
A new house and a new life about ten miles outside the camp.
These are my family members.
This is my little sister Horan,
this is my brother Khaled,
this is my mum and this is my father Brahim.
I'm going to show you my house from the inside.
This is the guest room...
..and this is the kitchen over there.
And this is my own room.
This is my desk where I study every day.
It's so good here.
This is a big change for the family.
In the refugee camp, they lived in a storage container.
# Another day, another life
# Passes by just like mine
# It's not complicated
# Do you ever wonder if the stars shine out for you...? #
Ahmed had to sell his bike to help pay for the house move.
So he now has to walk across the desert to his new school.
Now I'm going to my classroom to get my lessons.
My first lesson is the English lesson.
Starting a new school can be tough.
I am the only Syrian student here.
Even if we are all Arabs,
that doesn't mean we have the same culture and customs.
Ahmed is a top-class student.
What is the object?
But he misses his Syrian friends at the camp.
Back at Zaatari, I had my buddies.
We used to go to the gym together and we used to ride our bicycles
together. We would go to the school together,
we would do everything together.
We are the same brothers.
We've gone through the same thing and the same crisis,
and there is no difference between us.
We are just like one big family.
-I miss you.
-I miss you.
Ahmed may have a new house and school,
but he doesn't have his old friends to go home with.
And it's a long trek back.
I have to walk for one hour and a half to go
and one hour and a half to come back from school.
# Such a long way down
# It's a long way down
# It's a long way down. #
During the summer, the camp gets really hot and dusty.
It's in the middle of a desert.
Ali has been trying to keep his family cool.
-I invented this air-conditioning unit.
It's made from two engines, a fan and this remote control.
To make cold air, I put ice in here.
It's absolutely perfect!
It's been a tough time for Ali and his family.
They trekked across the desert from their home in Syria,
to Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
Even after living here for five years,
his dad thinks it's the safest place for Ali and his brothers.
I am very pleased for my children to be here.
Because in Syria, I would worry about them being killed.
Here, there is education and everything they need.
This morning, Ali is going with his mum to the hospital -
Majid has injured himself at home.
Yesterday, Majid grabbed a hammer and hit his fingers.
It's not looking good,
so we've come to the hospital.
Majid is bandaged up and while he's there,
he gets a free health check, too.
Let's weigh you.
When Majid was born, I loved him very, very much.
I love to take him out with me and play with him.
Majid has changed my life a lot.
Everything looks fine.
There's no need to worry.
Ali would do anything to protect his baby brother.
Ola and her family have received a parcel of warm clothes
from relatives in the camp who are also facing a cold winter.
THEY SPEAK OWN LANGUAGE
Hundreds of people die every year making the dangerous journey across
the sea to reach European countries.
Ola's cousin came to Germany like this,
with their grandmother and grandfather.
Two boats set off that night -
one for the Arab refugees
and another for people coming from Africa.
-There were so, so many people.
They were half foreigners, half Arabs.
Arabs go in one boat and the foreigners on another.
The boat driver was Arabic.
It was so, so crowded.
I was praying we would drown,
because people were sat on top of me.
I was crying all the time.
The other boat sunk and those people drowned.
They died, but we survived.
When we arrived at the shore, we were very happy.
Everyone threw themselves into the sea.
Ola's cousin and grandparents made it to Germany,
followed by her dad, and were allowed to stay.
But Ola and the rest of the extended family were still in the camp
Being separated was very hard.
A year later, after missing her dad so much,
Ola and her mum and brothers and sisters were reunited with him.
It was a happy day for all the family.
It was an unforgettable day.
When I saw them at the airport, it was the most beautiful moment,
just like the day they were born.
But Ola found leaving her other grandmother in the camp very hard,
and now she calls her every week.
At first, I didn't cry and I held back my tears.
I tried to be strong,
but then I saw my grandma and started crying.
I just couldn't help it.
-Bye, bye, bye.
-Bye, bye, bye.
Bye, bye, bye, bye.
Even after his long trek across the desert from school,
Ahmed's day is not finished.
Well, I just came back from school.
I am going to take a rest and then I'm going to go to my work.
Every night during exams, he revises for three hours.
I study until 11 or sometimes 11.30pm.
And then I'm going to go to sleep and wake up at 6am
It is so tiring to do
every day, every day, every day.
When he is not doing his exams, Ahmed has a job on a farm,
to help the family out.
His dad is not allowed to work because he doesn't have a permit.
In Syria, they were well-off,
but now the family relies increasingly on Ahmed.
Everyone knows the terrible things that are happening in Syria
and all the destruction.
Our home was bombed more than once.
So, we had to leave to save our children's lives.
Life here is expensive and this has an impact on Ahmed,
as he is the oldest son in the family.
Ahmed's job helps to pay for the household bills
and food for everyone.
He is determined to do everything he can for his family.
It is up to me to make my mother and father so proud of me.
As I promised them before, five years ago, before the war, even,
I told them, "I am going to be the first in my class ever."
And for each year, I was the first,
but this year, it's the final one
for the high school stage in Jordan.
So it's going to identify my destiny in the future.
This morning, Ali is back at school in the camp.
He goes every day and he still loves it.
THEY SPEAK OWN LANGUAGE
But today he has an exam, so the pressure is on.
-I'm nervous about my exams.
I wonder what the questions will be.
But I'm confident I'll be the best in class.
The maths test is first
and then it's back to his favourite subject, English.
-Your own lifestyle.
Do we live in Syria?
Do we live the same kind of life
as they live in England, for example?
All the teachers in the camp are Syrian too.
Because adult refugees are not allowed to work in Jordan,
they are volunteers.
Experience or live different lifestyles.
-The teachers treat us so well and they don't shout at us.
Because of this, we love to come to school.
A very difficult life.
In Germany, it is exam time for Ola too,
and it's even tougher because she has to take them in a new language.
I'm now studying German.
To achieve my dream, I have to go to a school called Gymnasium,
which is very hard to get into.
I want to become an architect, and when we return to Syria,
I will rebuild all the houses and make them beautiful.
I would do drawings from my imagination.
If she ever feels nervous,
Ola returns to one of her most treasured possessions.
Her graduation certificates from her first school in Syria.
These certificates are important to me, because even at nursery,
I was one of the best students.
She hid the certificates in her clothes
as she fled across the desert to the refugee camp in Jordan.
When I struggle at school,
I look back at my success and it helps to motivate me.
Ahmed is feeling the pressure as well.
He has an important exam in a few days
and he really needs to talk to his old friend at the camp, Mohammed.
It's very early in the morning and everybody is sleeping.
I am so excited, because I am going to the Zaatari refugee camp today
to see my friend.
This is the first time Ahmed has been back
since he left two years ago.
To leave our friends and our neighbours in the refugee camp,
it was so hard for us.
Because, we know, how do we live,
we are sharing the same history
and we have the same customs and we have the same traditions.
It's so difficult for us.
Ahmed hasn't seen his best friend since he left.
In my first year in Jordan, at the end, I had lost hope,
like many peoples, but my friend, Mohammed,
he brought me back to hope,
because he told me, "Don't lose your chance.
"Work hard on yourself and be always what you want to be."
This part of the camp is where Ahmed used to live.
He still has relatives here.
A bit of a surprise.
OK. One of my cousins,
he owned this supermarket.
THEY SPEAK OWN LANGUAGE
Finally, Ahmed spots Mohammed.
There is a special person in everyone's life
and this one in my life is named Mohammed.
He's my old friend. I had a moment where I'd lose the hope
and say that the dreams can't be true.
But he tells me, "No,
"stand up and fight for your dreams."
Come on. Let's roll.
Rock and roll.
Rock and roll.
Sometimes, all it takes is kind words from a friend.
It can make all the difference.
It has been two years since I was on a bicycle.
I am on a bicycle with my best friend, Mohammed.
I just saw my old friend and we were sharing our dreams and our thoughts.
It was good to see him after two years.
And we just decided the most important decision in our lives.
We are going to stay together and we are going to study together.
Maybe a nuclear engineer or a doctor.
I know that I am only a refugee,
but we need a chance to get the education
and to make my dreams come true.
Thousands of miles away in Germany,
Ola dreams of being accepted in her new country.
-It is difficult at school,
because all my friends are Arabs.
But we are the ones who have to fit in.
It's our duty to integrate.
And Ali just wants a different world for his little brother.
Majid hasn't seen Syria yet, and this is good.
If he'd seen it, he would miss it and want to go back.
And I am sure that when the war ends, we will all go home
and Majid will see Syria.
This film revisits three remarkable Syrian refugee children - Ahmed, Ola and Ali - whose lives in Za'atari refugee camp were featured in the multi-award winning 2015 documentary, My Life: The Boy on the Bicycle. After seven years of conflict in Syria, there are now five million Syrian refugees scattered across the world and this film explores some of the longer-term legacies of war - how it can shape the lives of the children who managed to get away, forever. My Life: The Boy on the Bicycle Two Years On finds the three children and their families as they are now, and they all have surprising and heart-warming stories to tell. The original 'boy on the bicycle' Ahmed, is now 18 and lives outside Jordan's capital Amman with this family, Ali, 14 is still in Za'atari camp and spends a lot of his time with his new baby brother born in the camp, and Ola, also 14, has moved to Europe with her mother and siblings to be reunited with her father and is building a new life in Germany.
Confident and charismatic Ahmed is again the English-speaking guide to the challenges of his new life. His focus is still on getting an education, which will improve his family's fortunes. But as the only breadwinner in the family, its tough. Ali is also busy studying hard in the camp and helping raise his younger siblings - he knows that, realistically, a return to his home in Syria is a long way off. Thousands of miles away in Germany, Ola has joined huge numbers of Syrian refugees trying to learn a new language and forge a future in Europe after a long and difficult journey to get there.