With Syria in its fifth year of conflict, most of the norms of prewar life are gone. Many schools, clinics and other social services have long been shuttered or bombed.
But in the aftermath of fighting in Kobani, residents who had fled to safety are returning, and some teachers are doing their best to get education back on track.
Few places in Syria offer hope. The Matry Osman school in war-battered Kobani is a rare exception.
Three months after Islamic State militants were forced to retreat from this town, children are back, playing in the schoolyard and going to daily classes. There’s still major work to be done, but the teachers try to make the children feel welcome.
"After the liberation of Kobani, we wanted to start education again," one teacher said. "We want our children to return to school. By coming to school, hopefully they will be able to get rid of the negative impacts of the war. We want to help them. But we don’t have enough teaching materials.”
Yet armed with only chalk and a few notebooks, the teachers might just be succeeding. In a land awash with fighters, they offer a different narrative.
“I am very happy to be here," a young boy said of his school. "We have a school, and I like my teacher. When I graduate, I’ll be a teacher, too.”