New Boots Bring Hope in Jordan

The kindergarten inside the Za’atari camp in Jordan is a little island of happiness inside a place that is full of tragedy. Here, 3-5 year-old Syrian children living in the huge camp are able to come three times per week in the morning or afternoon to have fun, build social skills and start learning. The brightly colored space, the simple toys, the dedicated young teachers all serve as a respite from the tough, grinding life these children have been living for months or even years in the camp. On my recent visit to Za’atari, the kids got something else too. New winter boots, specially made and provided to Save the Children by TOMS Shoes, were distributed to 9,000 children. As you can see from this video, the reactions were truly wonderful to see.

 

TOMS is pretty unique among our partners. Many have not supported our efforts for Syria due to fears of political issues within the conflict or lack of focus on the Middle East. But TOMS entire business model is built on the idea that for each pair of shoes purchased, a pair of appropriate shoes will be given to someone who needs them—the company has now given away more than 10 million pairs of shoes worldwide. You won’t find the rubber boots we gave out in Za’atari camp at any shoe store in the U.S.

Courageous Work in Freezing Temperatures

With more than half of the United States under a blanket of snow this week, it’s clear that winter is here! The frosty weather has arrived in full force—but it’s not just the Midwest or East Coast where winter is making itself felt. The winter snow storms have started in Lebanon and Jordan, and my Save the Children colleagues abroad are going above and beyond for Syrian refugees.

 

RS69214_IMG_1841I received an email from our Country Director in Jordan, Saba, who is leading a fearless team in very difficult circumstances. This past weekend, when accumulated snow flooded refugee tents, the team worked through the night to evacuate families to some of our Child Friendly Spaces, which were prepared as emergency shelters. They moved 134 families, including 431 children, into the heated shelters and provided warm clothing, food, mattresses and blankets. Saba noted that, despite the hours and the strain, “we will continue to work as needed” to look after children’s needs.

 

This snow is the first sign of the treacherous winter in the region that will only increase suffering for children and their families. Between November and February, temperatures can drop well below freezing—and for more than two million refugees

“They know that word. They know cold”




Anonymous

Simine Alam, Regional Information and Communication Manager

Syria Response

October 8, 2013


“My brothers are getting cold, too. My two youngest brothers
can’t

say many words yet, but now when they get cold, they say that
word:“cold”. They know that word. They know cold.” – Rami*,
11 years old, a Syrian refugee living in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan

Blog_Jordan_cold

The approximately 120,000 Syrian refugees who live in Za’atari Refugee Camp in North Jordan are going to face extremely tough weather conditions this year. PHOTO: Simine Alam/ Save the Children

 

I
roll up the window to prevent the cold air from coming into the car, as I drive
back from Za’atari Refugee Camp in Northern Jordan to Amman with my colleagues
from Save the Children, who work in the camp every day to provide essential
services for children and their families. As the nutrition counselors exchange
stories about their day with the school counselors, I reflect on the fact that
it’s getting colder every day in Jordan, and this winter has been predicted to
be the most harsh winter in the region, since 100 years ago. This means that the
weather conditions are going to feel even more harsh for the millions of
displaced Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and Syria. This
winter, more than 4 million Syrian children who have been forced to leave their
homes due to the dangers caused by war, are going to be freezing cold.

 

When
I tell people I live in the Middle East, often the first reaction is ‘it must
be so hot there!’ A lot of people associate the desert with intense dry heat
and so it is hard to comprehend that Za’atari, a sprawling tented city in the
desert, home to approximately 120,000 Syrian refugees, is going to face
freezing weather conditions and torrential rainfall this winter. Last winter
Za’atari flooded, and we saw images in the media of Syrian refugees bailing
water and mud out of tents with plates, bowls and brooms. Around 500 tents were
destroyed due to being flooded or blown away with the wind.  

 

This
year the camp has doubled in size. The first thing that strikes you as you
enter Za’atari is the number of children. Children make up more than half of
the camp’s population. In spite of the great efforts various organizations,
including Save the Children, have gone to, to ensure that the children in
Za’atari are enrolled in one of the three schools in the camp or participating
in the activities provided by youth centres, you still see children running
around barefoot, pushing wheelbarrows, playing in the rocky outcrops and sand
in the camp. I wonder if the barefoot children I saw running around today, will
have shoes this winter to keep their little feet warm. Or if the tents I see,
already flapping around in the wind now will be strong enough to protect families
from the heavy rain and wind which are on their way.

 

Blog_Jordan_cold._1jpg

One of the things that really strikes you as soon as you enter Za’atari Refugee Camp is the number of children. At least half of the 120,000 Syrian refugees there are children. PHOTO: Simine Alam/ Save the Children

 

I
can’t bear the thought of going to sleep cold, and waking up cold and being
cold day after day after day. But then I don’t live in a tent or an unfinished
building, exposed to bitter wind, rainfall and even snow, and so I know I have
to keep things in perspective this winter. Save the Children is going to great
efforts for ‘winterisation’ this season – that is, ensuring that Syrian
refugees and displaced people in the region are well equipped to deal with the
freezing weather conditions in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Based on
our experience in distributing items last winter, we have carefully designed a
set of winter items for families, including both children and adults’ clothing,
blankets and rugs. We are also distributing household kits which include
materials for families to improve their shelters. In Syria we are targeting
newly displaced families with our distribution of materials, as these are the
most vulnerable families. It is essential to get these items out as soon as
possible. As every day passes, it’s getting colder and colder.

 

These
are some examples of how a small amount can go a very long way:

  • USD
    11 could buy a pair of shoes to protect someone from the bitter winter
  • USD
    13 provides a warm blanket for a child
  • USD
    14 could buy an insulated jacket to protect someone from the bitter winter 
  • USD
    52 will cover the cost of a school bag and a set of winter clothes to protect a
    child from the cold, including track suits, a winter jacket, gloves, a scarf, a
    winter hat, a pair of shoes and a set of underwear.
  • USD
    100 could buy a set of winter clothes, including jackets, winter hats, socks
    and footwear for a refugee family of 5
  • USD
    160 will provide a ‘quick-fix kit to a family of 4 in Lebanon, enabling them to
    weatherproof their self-built shelters. This includes plastic sheeting,
    transparent sheets, wood and galvanized nails.
  •  USD 250 could buy a winter kit for a family of
    five, including warm winter coats, scarves, hats and warm boots for adults,
    insulation for tents and house floors, plastic sheeting to protect shelter from
    the Winter elements and rope.
  • USD
    300 will cover the cost of running a household of 4 people throughout the
    winter period, including heating, fuel, winter clothes and winter boots for the
    family.

 

Read Save the Children's report Hunger in a War Zone

Donate to help Syria's Children

 

 


* Name has been changed to
protect the identity of the child 

Infant and Young Child Feeding Program in Za’atari Refugee Camp


Save the Children’s Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Program has been running in Za’atari Refugee Camp, home to over 130,000 Syrian refugees in north Jordan, since December 2012. The program provides assistance to children under the age of five, in addition to pregnant and lactating women. 

Breastfeeding in an emergency is the safest way to protect children from an increased risk of infection and from becoming malnourished. With the right support and assistance, mothers can continue to breastfeed fully, even when malnourished, in order to give their children the best chance of survival.  In an emergency setting, access to hygienic facilities to sterilize bottles and prepare infant formula, appropriate and timely health services, safe storage of water and privacy to breastfeed can be limited, impacting on the nutritional status of infants if an intervention is not provided.

The IYCF Program has set up 3 caravans in the camp, which provide a safe and private place for mothers to breastfeed their children. Women who come to the caravan are provided with biscuits and water, and both mothers and fathers are given awareness-raising sessions on breastfeeding by Save the Children’s specialists. 

SCJordan_HalimaZada  is a 25-year-old mother to four children. She arrived at Za’atari Camp three months ago, where she lives in a small caravan with her four children. When she arrived at Za’atari, her youngest daughter, Alaa, was five months old. Zada breastfed her for the first month and a half of her life, but she then switched to infant formula because she felt too stressed out by the dangerous situation in her home town in Syria. 

“When Save the Children Jordan’s counsellor first visited my family, my baby was 5 months old, and I was very frustrated and easily irritated. The counsellor explained the benefits of breast milk and the dangers of infant formula preparation, particularly in the environment at the camp. We also talked about the possibility of relactation, and I agreed to try it by putting Alaa on my breast whenever possible, especially at night. I was taught the correct positioning and attachment pattern, I started drinking more fluids and agreed to start using the cup instead of the bottle, due to inaccessibility to clean water and hygiene conditions, until my milk flow returned.

One week later, the counsellor and I started decreasing the amount of infant formula I was giving to Alaa, whilst monitoring her weight and urination. Within a month my baby was fully satisfied from breast milk. I feel so much better now that I am breast feeding, and I know that this is a bit accomplishment for me and the best thing I can offer my child under the circumstances.”

 _______________________

Read Save the Children's report Hunger in a War Zone

Donate to help Syria's Children

 

Jordan: ”Taking pictures allowed him to see beautiful things in the camp”



Francine-blog-headFrancine Uenuma, Director Media Relations and
Communications

Jordan

September 2013


Home to 130,000 people and
counting, Za’atari refugee camp is a massive, sprawling sea of tents, “caravan”
like structures serving as home, all of it blanketed in a thick coat of dust.
It’s hard to distinguish one row from another, but dotting the landscape are a
few playgrounds, brightly painted murals on the side of child-friendly spaces, kindergartens,
and a soccer pitch where teenage boys can break from daily life in the camp –
especially rough for the teens and children here who find themselves at loose
ends – for a series of drills from instructors.

One of these safe spaces is Save the Children’s multi-activity
center for teen girls, where they are learning a series of skills from language
lessons to making crafts. Today they are making soap – a mountain of glycerine,
olive oil, a propane burner, gloves covered in dyes. Saba*, 16, tells us, “when
I go back to Syria, I will teach other girls this and maybe start my own
business.”

In another room, photojournalist Agnes Montanari, who is a
consultant with Save the Children, is listening intently to a radio broadcast.
The reporter behind it is a teenager, who has gone out into the camp and
interviewed two families about a problem they are having with their sewage. The
trucks don’t come by often enough, they tell her, so they have had to dig holes
and dispose of it. They are concerned that their children may fall in, about
the health concerns this poses. The reporter then follows up with staff from an
organization at the camp that helps with disposal of sewage, including the
interview in her broadcast.

Agnes_mon_syria

It’s a refreshing sight – a story that’s been told about
refugees many times, this time being reported by a young refugee. Montanari has
a similar project for photography, where teens can take photos to document
their experiences and environment. She says she came here hoping to help teens
find a new perspective – helping them tell their own story and shaping the
narrative around their experience.

“Using a camera is like having new eyes to see everyday
things in a different way. Instead of being victims, they become actors again.
One of my students, at the end of the first three months said that taking
pictures had allowed him to see beautiful things in the camp,” she says.  “The other important aspect of the class…was
allowing the students to express themselves, not only to talk about their life
in Syria but also about their hopes and dreams, and becoming a photographer, a
photojournalist has become, for some of them, a goal.”

She says learning these skills has also helped them to
become more focused and better articulate their thoughts.

It’s critically important to maintain these spaces within
Za’atari – to give children and teens a safe and comfortable environment to
learn skills, make new friends, and find new ways to cope with the new future
they now face.

 

Read Save the Children's report Hunger in a War Zone

Donate to help Syria's Children

 

Jordan: “We get to be happy”



Francine-blog-headFrancine Uenuma, Director Media Relations and
Communications

Jordan

September 2013


Since Syrians began fleeing their homes two and a half years
ago, we have seen countless images of large camps, tents comprising our images
of families forced to flee their homes in Syria. But here in Jordan – home to
the largest of these camps, Za’atari, which has 130,000 people – many more are
urban refugees, scattered in host communities and struggling to get the
services they need.

We recently visited a child-friendly space in Amman, where
Save the Children is connecting with this hard-to-reach segment of the refugee
population. We saw a bright, cheerful space tucked into a neighborhood in the
older eastern part of the city, where children have adorned the walls with
drawings and crafts. In this room 29 children – and 3 adults, comprised of Save
the Children staff and Syrian volunteers – help children express themselves and
play in a non-threatening environment.

 

Shireena_Francine_blog_Jordan_Spet_2013We spoke to to 10-year-old Shireena*, who is in Amman with
her mother and siblings. Her father has been missing for more than a year.
Shireena has been out of school for two years, and like many children who are
unable to attend school, the child-friendly space is her only structured
activity. “We get to be happy,” she says. “We draw and we play…we sing and tell
stories.” Despite being unable to attend school, she tells us she wants to grow
up to be a doctor because “if something happens to you or someone close to you,
you can help them.”

 

As we prepare to leave, the teacher tells us someone wants
to speak to us. Zeina*, 8, is shy and quiet – she speaks so softly we can
barely hear her. The first thing she says is that she is worried about her
father. She saw him after he was shot in both legs and crippled – a horrifying
image for anyone, much less a child, to witness. “I’m very concerned for my
father because we often can’t reach him,” she says, her expression conveying
the sadness and worry that she carries with her. Here at the child-friendly
space, she likes to draw her old neighborhood, to be able to express her
memories of a home she still misses.

Reaching children like Shireena and Zeina  – as well as their families (the center also
holds sessions for parents and helps connect them to much-needed services) – is
Save the Children’s priority in this crisis, and critically important in urban
areas like this. Buses provide transportation, as many parents cannot afford
it, and bring children to the center. Parents have told teachers that they see
a positive change in their children’s behavior – less aggression, more
friendliness – as a result of their time here.

 

Despite the
encouraging signs from this child-friendly space, the number of children spread
across cities who do not have access to programs like this is too high. Like
Shireena and Zeina, those children need support and assistance to cope with the
new reality of their childhoods.


Shireena_drawing_Francine_blog_Jordan_Sept_2013

 

Read Save the Children’s report Hunger in a War Zone

Donate to help Syria’s Children

 

In Refugee Camps, Basics Become Luxuries

The Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan is home to more than 100,000 refugees who have fled the fighting in Syria, but it’s unlikely that any of the camp’s residents consider this place—cold, crowded and under resourced—“home.”

 

I traveled to Za’atari last week after the launch of Save the Children’s recent global report, Childhood Under Fire, marking the two-year anniversary of the conflict in Syria.  What I saw gave all of the statistics we hear about in the news—more than one million refugees in neighboring countries, and an estimated four million displaced inside of Syria —a very human face.

 

I met a young mother and her two month-old son at our infant and young child feeding center inside the camp.  She told me that when she and her other children fled Syria, they left nearly everything behind…including her husband, who stayed to protect their home.  She was very pregnant when they left and she was afraid she might give birth on the way, but she was too scared to stay.  Her town was being bombed heavily and she didn’t know if there would be a hospital left standing when it was time to give birth.  According to our report, many doctors and health facilities in Syria have been targets of attack and nearly a third of the country’s hospitals are now closed.

 

When this young mother arrived at the frigid camp, she found out about Save the Children’s infant and young child feeding program and sought it out, where they staff helped her find the right care for the birth.  Save the Children’s center—in a trailer inside the camp—works to help moms initiate and continue breastfeeding, get help on how to keep their babies healthy by providing access to vaccines and health services and receive clothing and blankets and high protein biscuits for nursing moms.

 

These small things, which until recently were considered basic items and interventions for new moms at home in Syria, have become luxuries for refugee moms in Za’atari.

 

Similarly, people often think of early education as a luxury for children living in refugee camps, but some families have been living in the camps for two years—and the interruption to young lives can be devastating.  Before the conflict, more than 90% of primary school-aged children in Syria were enrolled (one of the highest rates in the Middle East) but the conflict has upended their learning.  Access to early education, with a focus on nutrition, can make a world of difference for a generation of Syrian children.

 

I was lucky enough to visit with more than a hundred 3-5 year-olds there during their meal time at a kindergarten Save the Children set up inside the camp.  Every day, children enrolled in the school receive a meal of yogurt, fruit, bread with meat and juice each day—a major source of nutrition for kids, since food rations available in the camp consist mostly of lentils, bread, bulgur, oil and sugar.  This meal also helps them have the energy they need to learn in the classroom and, just as importantly, to play. Many of the children saw horrific things in Syria, experienced fear as they fled their homes and are living in very close and uncomfortable quarters—so having a chance to play with other children and just be kids is a crucial part of their healing and development.

 

No family should consider nutritious foods, safe childbirth and kindergarten a luxury and we’re working to make life a little easier for displaced kids.  But at the Za’atari camp, and for families everywhere who have been forced to flee due to violence, drought or conflict, the greatest luxury of all would be simply to go home.

 

Syria Crisis: Reuniting Lost Children with their Families


Farisphoto (2)Faris Kasim, Information & Communications Coordinator 

Za’atari Refugee camp in Jordan on the Syrian border.

February 26, 2013


Near the reception area, Save the Children is caring for unaccompanied and separated
children.

There were more than a dozen lost girls and boys as young as 6 years old who were
residing at special designated areas.

About two to three lost children are arriving at the camp every day. Most are eventually reunited with their parents or extended families within the camp.

However,four unaccompanied children have been living at the space for the past three
months.

The Save the Children team has been working day and night to assist the refugees in
Za’atari, and there is good coordination between all the NGOs and agencies
working to make room for new refugees.

But everyone is anxious about what will happen if this exodus continues. Will the
humanitarian community and the Jordanian government be able to shelter, feed
and clothe another 60,000 people?

Thousands
of children need caring people to support Save the Children’s response efforts.
Please give generously to our Syria Children in Crisis Fund

Syria Crisis: Being There When Children are Sick


Farisphoto (2)Faris Kasim, Information & Communications Coordinator 

Za’atari Refugee camp in Jordan on the Syrian border.

February 19, 2013


Save the Children is responsible for general food distribution in the camp. I saw
long lines of families sitting with boxes of their bi-monthly rations. Many had
recently arrived, and were happy to receive the rations.

While
talking to a colleague who was supervising the distribution, a man ran up to us
clutching a little girl in his arms. His face covered with a red kaffiya (traditional
headscarf), he urgently called to us to help his daughter.

She had
been sick for many days and was running a dangerously high fever. She was
barely conscious and couldn’t even sit up straight.

My
colleague immediately rushed them to the camp hospital. I later learned that the
girl was given medicine and was put under observation by doctors for hours in
case she had to be transferred outside of the camp.

Hundreds
of men, women and children are arriving at Za’atari in similar conditions, and
many don’t know how to get help at the camps. Luckily for this man’s daughter,
we were there to get her safely to the hospital.

So many children need caring people to support
Save the Children’s response efforts.Please give generously to our Syria Children in Crisis Fund.

Syria Crisis: Supplies Needed for Refugee Families


Farisphoto (2)Faris Kasim, Information & Communications Coordinator 

Za’atari Refugee camp in Jordan on the Syrian border.

February 15, 2013


As I
entered the refugee camp, there were dozens of vehicles unloading people near
the registration center.

A little
boy ran up to me, asking something in Arabic. My colleague intervened and found
out he wanted to know where to get breakfast.

We
walked back to his family and told them about the Save the Children tent nearby
where they can get welcome meals made up of hummus, beans, juice, tuna,
crackers and honey.

The
family had hastily fled their homes in Syria after hearing news of bombardment
in their area. After travelling overnight, they reached the border near
Za’atari at dawn.

While
waiting for registration, the father told me he was worried about what kind of
accommodation he would get for his family, but thanked God that at least his
children were now safe from harm.

There
was a large tent nearby where the newly registered families were given
blankets, mattresses, buckets, water bottles, soap, cleaning powder and other
sanitary items.

There
was a huge crowd pushing against the fence around the tent. Though the camp
staff insisted people queue to speed up the distribution, most of the men and
women were furious about the delay in receiving their supplies. Calm was
restored when some of the frustrated families agreed to be patient and wait
their turn.

Save the Children is working to help the thousands of children living in the refugee camps. So many girls and boys need caring people to support Save the Children’s response efforts. Please give generously to our Syria Children in Crisis Fund.