You have been working with refugee children in Azraq Camp over the past months. What has your experience with them been?
Syrian refugee children show their feelings through the way they act. Some of them are quiet; others are angry and aggressive. This is a result of the displacement and the changes in their lives. Missiles have destroyed their homes and schools, family members were killed. They have to take over more responsibilities, for example an older daughter may have to substitute for the mother by caring for her younger siblings. Some of them had to live in constant fear for months and years. In a lot of other ways, refugee children are just like any other children. They love to play, sing and draw. They are creative and like to ask questions and explore new things. They are proud when they can tell you something or can give you a correct answer to a quiz question.
How can you support children who suffer from the bad experiences they have made during the war?
We have an activity called “Simsim Club”, where children answer quiz questions and play. It shall educate and entertain the children at the same time. One time, we talked about different jobs people can do. I asked children what they would like to be when they grow up. One of the children was very sad and he told me “I don’t want to grow up. There are so many doctors, teachers and carpenters in this world. I will not be able to make any difference if they cannot help the people in need because of the war.” He also did not want to color the pictures which I distributed to the children to draw on. However, during the course of session he changed and opened up. In the end he gave me his paper with a nice drawing on it. And he told me that he want to work in a grocery store when he gets older. Just like his uncle. This is just one out of many examples. Children need time so their invisible wounds can heal. They need to play and we try to give them different tools to deal with their experiences. It is good to see how we can make a difference in the lives of these children. Of course it is not easy to heal these invisible wounds. These children have seen and experienced things no one should have to see. But they are also strong and we are trying to make them feel better – step by step.
What do you like most about the psychosocial activities?
It is great for me to be able to give refugees an opportunity to interact socially with their peers. For both children and adults it is important that they can develop their skills, inspire people, and spread positive thinking. Psychosocial support activities in a safe environment enhance their ability to cope with the situation and foster their emotional and social well-being.
In our creativity workshops for example children do handicraft from simple materials like card boards. In every session the children surprise me with great new ideas. At the end of the session the children feel proud and more confident and they want to show their work to the other participants. Seeing their smiles and seeing how they grow stronger makes me feel very happy.