Syria crisis: a space to be children

Written by Mona Monzer, Communication and Advocacy Officer, Save the Children in Lebanon.

Different groups participating in activities in a child-friendly space for displaced Syrian children in Lebanon

Summer has started bringing heat waves all over Lebanon. High temperatures didn’t stand in the way of the regular activities taking place in the child-friendly spaces set up for displaced Syrian children, run by Sawa, one of Save the Children’s partners in the area.

These spaces provide children affected by the crisis in Syria with a comforting environment that helps them cope with the uncertainty around them, learn and play, and gives them time and space to just be children.

It also gives parents the opportunity to rebuild their lives while their children are with trusted caregivers from their community.

Children arrived at three in the afternoon. They were having fun learning new songs about children’s rights, nature and peace, drawing and playing with each other without complaint about the heat. However, air conditioners will be installed soon.

Amidst the different groups of children sitting on chairs and carpets and others outside in the shade, I met eight-year-old Feryal.

“Butterflies are free”

Feryal, aged eight, at the child-friendly space

She was busy with ten other children cutting different shapes to hang on a big empty wall. Feryal loves to draw butterflies and fruits.

“Butterflies are free and fruits are so colourful,” she says.

Feryal comes from Hama in Syria and is staying in Lebanon with her parents, younger sister and older brother.

“When I think about Syria, I feel sad because I worry about my grandma who is still there. I don’t remember how we got here but all I know is that I was very happy to come to Lebanon. I’m so excited to go back to school – we had to stop when the war started at home.”

Feryal has been going to this child-friendly space since the beginning of May 2012.

“I’m very happy when I come here,” she explains. “It’s fun – I’ve met new people I enjoy spending time with. This doesn’t mean that I have forgotten my friends in Syria: Amira, Alaa and Salma. I miss them so much,” Feryal says sadly.

“We’ve lost Syria”

Hayyan was sitting with a different group. He wanted to finish his drawing, colour it in and hang it on a wooden board.

Eight-year-old Hayyan comes from Homs in Syria. He arrived in Lebanon with his parents and two younger sisters three months ago.

“I know why we came to Lebanon,” says Hayyan. “There’s war in Syria and shooting everywhere. I was never scared but my little sister would be crying all the time. I remember coming with my family in different cars before crossing the border.”

Hayyan is happy to participate in the child-friendly space. “I’m learning names of animals and plants in English,” he explains. “I play football with the other boys, we use the computers to play games as well.  My closest friend here is Mazen – he’s Lebanese.”

Hayyan misses Syria. “Every time I think of home, I remember my aunt Khousoum,” he says. “I worry about her and I feel sad. We’ve lost Syria, it’s being destroyed.”

Syrian children singing as part of an activity in a child-friendly space

A chance to be children

Save the Children has established four child-friendly spaces in Bekaa, Lebanon, providing activities to more than 300 children residing in the area.

Training on children’s rights, child protection, resilience and animation techniques have been provided by the Save the Children team to social workers, volunteers and animators to build their capacity to reinforce children’s natural resiliency to respond to distressful and harmful events and enable them to be active and positive agents for change.

Please donate to our Emergency Fund and help us reach children caught up in crises

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  • hala sukarieh

    Your main objective of the positions it to promote the Rights to education, protection and basic needs of the Syrian Children living in Lebanon in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child through co-operation with local organizations, institutions, authorities and international organizations…

    It was read on this link:

    Since few years and trying to help children from Syria who were living under very bad conditions, also because of the parents ignorance who don’t have any idea about children’s rights…
    Poor children they are enduring very much and especially the case of Yasmine who didn’t have her ID papers since her birth… And she was helped through SOS association too to find support and education. But since more than a year she went with her mother and brother back to Syria (their father died before Yasmine’s birth). Yasmine’s dream was to become a doctor to cure and help people… But she is learning to become a tailor in Syria.

    How is it possible to volunteer in Lebanon to help the innocent kids to establish their lost rights smashed by ignorance…

    And there are programs for children that improves their attention, inner peace and for each age a different activity (including theater performance, peaceful & joyful and musictherapy songs…)

    Looking forward to hear from you if you are interested and for any further information

    Thank you very much

    00961 3 949258