MALI: THE LONG ROAD TO BAMAKO

Moussa Thera typically spends his days working
with children in our emergency education programs in Mali, West Africa. But
January 10 was a day he won’t soon forget. Read his blog about fleeing the
embattled city of Mopti in war-torn Mali. The Mopti Office staff were
temporarily relocated on January 10 as armed rebel forces approached
Mopti; they have since returned.

"On
Thursday afternoon [10 January], I was planning a distribution of school
supplies for children with our local partners. We knew there were tensions in
the North, in Konna, so we had taken security measures just in case, but we
wanted to keep on working as usual because there’s just so much to do here in
Mopti.

Our work was
interrupted when the news came in that a city only an hour away from our office
 had been taken by armed groups. 

Soon after, the
security situation deteriorated in a nearby town. Then we received a call from
our office in Bamako asking us to get ready to be relocated. 

As I rushed home
through crowded streets to pick up some essentials, I saw  hundreds of people running in every direction.
Children were shouting .All the women had loaded their belongings on their
heads.

Then everybody
stopped. Only for a second but it seemed a lot longer. In unison everyone
looked up at the sky to see 3 aircraft heading north
on their way to battle. Then back to confusion as the crowd returned to panic.

Alongside the
road hundreds of men, women and children trundled out of town in unison.  Between them and us was a seemingly endless
collection of motorbikes.

During a stop, I
talked to a few people waiting to take a bus. 
They told me the price for transportation to Bamako had skyrocketed  

By the time we got
half-way to the capital it was getting dark. We 
planned to stop for the night, but all the hotels were fully booked. We were
not the only ones heading to safety.

It had been a
long day and we were tired and stressed. More than anything, we worried about our
students and the wonderful children in our programs.

The children in
Mopti need our support to go to school. Our work there provides students with
educational kits and supports school gardening and canteen activities. We also
identify out-of-school children and help them go back to school. That’s what I
love about my job: I know our work gives these children the opportunity to
study that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

When  a crisis unfolds, education can
often be forgotten. But it so important: it’s not only about learning, it also
gives the children a sense of normalcy. I believe this is really important in
time of conflict, when everything around is upside-down.

It broke my
heart to leave. The sooner we can go back the better.

I hope we can go
back soon.

Moussa Thera and his colleagues were allowed to return
to Mopti and resume their essential work the following week.

Save the Children is currently helping families in the
region through clean water, sanitation,
education, child protection and health programs. 

When the Students Become the Teachers


Anonymous manMichael Abdalah, Adolescence and Livelihoods Program Officer

Abnoub
District, Egypt

January 17, 2013


A privilege of working for Save the Children
is that we get to work closely with local partners to reach the most vulnerable
children, and witness the changes happening in their lives and our projects’
significant impact on communities as a whole.

Picture 083Last week, I visited Arab El Kadadeh
Preparatory School in Arab El Kadadeh village, one of our impact areas in Abnoub
District in Upper Egypt.I was there to follow up on the livelihood peer-to-peer
sessions implemented through our “New Beginning (NB) -Youth Economic
Empowerment Program”.The program aims to strengthen the economic skills of
youth and enable them to then pass on their skills to their peers.

When I walked into the classroom, I
could sense the motivation and hope. The facilitator amazed me with her
confident performance as she lead the class, explaining the educational
materials and facilitating the games and activities.

Picture 106Seeing Esraa, a Youth Trainer,I remembered the
first time we met a year ago at a similar session in the same school. She was a brilliant
14-year old with great enthusiasm. After graduating, she went on to establish a small
grocery business in her village. Through her store, she makes a good profit and
is able tohelp herself and contribute to her family’s income.She is already
looking to expand her business.

Picture 089When I asked about her time with New Beginning
and her future dreams, she answered, “I am so happy that I had such a great
opportunity to learn and practice new stuff at my early age. When I see my
colleagues who did not attend, I feel lucky and I hope I can do something to
help them.” Her dream of sharing her experience with her colleagues was
fulfilled when she joined the peer-to-peer initiative and started facilitating
classes.

Every time I meet with youth, I
encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them by Save
the Children at this early age, and to share their experiences with their peers. Meeting
children like Esraa, and witnessing how positively their lives have changed is the
engine that keeps me motivated.

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Day 3: King Abdullah Park Refugee Camp

Anoymous womanTorrey Taussig

Zarqa, Jordan

January 17, 2013


Childhood’s Simple Joys 

Today we visited the King Abdullah Park refugee camp in northern Jordan, outside of Ramtha. The weather is still cold, rainy and windy today, and it is hard to think that these conditions will only continue to worsen over the coming months. King Abdullah Park is a much smaller site than the Za’atari camp that we visited yesterday, and it is a more enclosed space that can only accommodate around 1,200 people. The site was previously meant to be a park for the nearby neighborhoods, but upon completion, the Syrian crisis elevated and the Jordanian government turned it into a space for a refugee camp.

P1081147Given the more manageable size, the conditions are slightly different from the larger Za’atari camp, which is in constant influx. Here, each family has a container with solid walls and floors, raised off the ground, which is crucial during the cold and rainy winter months.

There are around 450 children at the camp, and many of them are able to attend local Jordanian state-run schools in the nearby towns. Everyday, Save the Children helps to transport the children back and forth between the schools and the camp, separately busing girls and boys to their different schools. To maintain a sense of normalcy and reduce the tension that the upheaval has caused, the Syrian children go to school in separate sessions from the Jordanian children. The schools and teachers have graciously accommodated the new children, and have taken on more hours and longer shifts in order to handle the increased need for schooling.

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While at the camp, we had the opportunity to visit another child friendly space run by Save the Children. Similar to yesterday, we were met by dozens of happy, bright-eyed children, who were eager to play, sing and dance. The space, albeit cold due to the weather, was brightly colored and filled with toys. Given the rain, the older children who are often able to play soccer and volleyball on the outside fields needed to be inside the space with the younger children. The teachers and Save the Children staff have the patience and attentiveness of saints, and were able to manage the large number of children with care, warmth and joy.

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We also learned how selfless the staff is, as many of them have taken time off from their jobs elsewhere in Jordan to help aid in the refugee efforts. We met two men, one of whom is a physical education teacher nearby, and another who runs his own hair salon! They both now spend their days running around with a highly energetic group of children who are confined to the boundaries of their campsite and are in need of attention and activity. It is through acts of kindness such as these that you can truly see the generosity of the Jordanian people, who have accommodated so many people that have nowhere else to turn.

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We stayed at the space for over an hour, having been immediately accepted by the engaging and friendly children and staff. We were able to partake in a number of different activities that the children were doing, including drawing beautiful pictures of Syrian flags, flowers, smiling faces, and hearts.  They were also performing puppet shows that they had created themselves, playing ping-pong, badminton and legos. There were also dozens of toys for the children to play with, and it was clear that the space provides a respite from the more tedious camp life that awaits them outside.

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At the end of the morning session at the child friendly space, the children headed out to the school buses that were waiting to take them to the local schools. We followed them to Ramtha, where we visited a first-grade girls’ classroom. The teacher was conducting a math lesson, and the eight girls (smaller class size than average due to the weather) enthusiastically took turns coming up to the chalkboard to practice arithmetic, happily cheering when they arrived at the right answers. Despite the hardships they have been through, their excitement and energy is contagious. They left us with a renewed belief that children everywhere deserve the chance to have a childhood, regardless of their circumstances.

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Their lives are by no means easy, and their living conditions make their days even harder. All sense of normalcy they once had is gone, and even after months of living in the camps away from their homes and the lives they once knew, they face continuous adjustment. In a world where humans can do so much harm and cause so much destruction, the work that the Jordanian government and its people, Save the Children, UNICEF, UNHCR and other organizations are doing on the ground shows the best of humanity; and at the end of the day, that is all that we have.

And the REAL Award Goes to…

The following blog first appeared on The Huffington Post.

_______________________

 

Awards season is in full swing.

 

On Sunday night, Hollywood’s elite came together and celebrated last year’s accomplishments on the Big and Small screens at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards. While millions from around the world tuned in and debated whether the most deserving winners were chosen, a smaller, but no less important, awards program was about to take place just a short drive south of the action.

 

The inaugural REAL Awards honorees were announced last night in Laguna Niguel, Calif., where nine U.S.-based health workers were named for their extraordinary service in health care. They may not be household names, but they matter enormously to the patients they serve. People like Carri Butcher, our winner in the hospice care category, who created a day spa at her own home in Arkansas for her dying patients so they could be treated to a little pampering before they passed. Or Esther Madudu, a midwife in rural Uganda, who is one of the nine global honorees we named last September. Esther’s clinic often has no power, so she delivers babies in the middle of the night by the light of her mobile phone screen.

 

The REAL Awards is a chance to shine the spotlight on the men and women who go to work every day to perform the greatest role of all — saving the lives of others. They may not grace the covers of magazines, but their work still deserves to be celebrated, especially since they’re needed now more than ever.

 

We’re currently experiencing a severe shortage of doctors in this country. While we can’t ignore this crisis, one way to address it, at least in the short term, is to rely more on other health workers — nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, community health workers, pharmacists — to perform the tasks that don’t require a doctor, as a recent New York Times editorial suggests.

 

No one knows the importance of health workers more than those in the developing world, where the dearth of doctors is even more stark. By some estimates, the world is short more than millions of health workers, including one million frontline health workers, who deliver care in some of the hardest-to-reach communities, oftentimes with limited resources. In fact, frontline health workers are the first — and often, only — point of contact to the health care system for millions of people.

 

Their role is invaluable. It is estimated that every three seconds, a child death is prevented thanks to care provided by a

Public, Private, and Civil Society Partnerships in Action


Yasmina padillaYasmina Padilla, Food Security Project Coordinator

Managua, Nicaragua

January 11, 2013


We like to think of development as a team
sport requiring all players to work together toward the same goal. The game gets particularly exciting when you
add new players to the team at half time. 

Save the Children has served children and
families in Nicaragua for almost 80 years. Three years ago, we began partnering
with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR), based in Vermont, on a
project to increasethe income and food security for families of workers on
coffee farms. By helping families to diversify
their crops, improve storage techniques, and bring crops to market, they can
better withstand periods of food scarcity during the months between coffee
harvests.

The United States Agency for International
Development
(USAID) joined the partnership two years ago, adding an ambitious
health component through their regional “4th Sector Health” project. Implemented by Abt Associates, 4th
Sector Health develops public-private partnerships and supports exchanges
between countries to advance development through health in Latin America and
the Caribbean. In Nicaragua, 4th
Sector Health is working with Save the Children and GMCR, along with local civil
society partners, to boost maternal and child health and nutrition for the same
coffee-growing communities.

USAID’s 4th Sector Health also
recently funded an experience sharing trip for Save the Children staff from five
Latin American countries, who were involved in implementing GMCR-funded
projects. The participants learned from each other’s experiences and are
replicating best practices in their own programs, serving to increase their
impact and sustainability.

The alliance between USAID, Save the Children,
and GMCR is intended to maximize the use of resources and help identify new
solutions to challenges affecting these communities. Sometimes the alliance
organizations face challenges of their own — coordinating work plans, reporting
on technical outcomes, and carrying out their separate missions. 

Public-private partnerships, otherwise known
as the “Golden Triangle,”are a hot topic in the field of international
development. Donors like USAID have
invested millions of dollars in partnerships with the private sector, yet some
development experts have questioned the development impact of such partnerships in
achieving real benefits for the poor and marginalized in developing countries.

As part of its recent reform efforts, USAID has
put more attention towards improving its public-private
partnership model. For one, USAID is including technical experts
in health and nutrition such as Save the Children in some partnerships,
recognizing that U.S. civil society groups lend valuable expertise in
maternal-child health and other technical areas. Moreover, USAID is steering the private sector
towards achievement of concrete development targets through their partnerships,
as well as ensuring that companies are held to certain standards, such as
respect for workers and environmental stewardship.

From my perspective, this alliance between Save the Children
Nicaragua, USAID, and GMCR, is having a transformative impact on the
communities in which it operates.

Photo Credit: Gerardo Aráuz

Photo Credit: Gerardo Aráuz

Martha Lorena Diaz is one of many
enterprising women working with us,whose partner, Jose Manuel Benavidez, is a
coffee farmer on a cooperative that sells to GMCR. Martha was initially given five
hens and now keeps 40 in her small business, earning about one dollar a day
from selling the eggs and chickens. Save
the Children project training sessions have helped Martha to identify nutritious
sources of food for her three children, particularly during the lean months when
she struggles to provide enough food for them. Martha now makes a corn flour drink to boost
her childrens’ daily vitamin intake. Moreover, health promoters, trained by
Save the Children, visit her neighborhood and others to monitor child health
and nutrition and treat sick children in their communities, which are often far
from the closest health center.

Successful partnerships, such as the one
between USAID, GMCR, and Save the Children Nicaragua, are critical to achieving
lasting results in the communities that we all serve. With an increase in
USAID’s partnerships with private sector and NGO players, who are committed to
making a real difference in the lives of families in Nicaragua and elsewhere, I
believe our team will prevail.

Shaping the way to sustainability


Author Blog Post3Elizabeth Richard, Assistant
Sponsorship Operations Manager and Translator

Maïssade, Haiti

January 10, 2013


As Save the Children transitions out
of the Maïssade community, a local association, ANORMA, is now ready to take the
lead.  

Summer vacation is at its end and many
children who participated in this year’s summer camp are headed home with new
friendships, a sense of confidence and new skills. This was the first summer
camp led by ANORMA, a local association,and judging by the positive feedback it
will be the first of many. 

The camp welcomed boys and girls from
12 to 18 years old to be trained in basic computer skills, French, floral art
and dance. The two week camp was an occasion for the local group to not only demonstrate
its ability to manage the program, but also to recruit community support for trainings.
Indeed, local teachers, florists and even cooks volunteered and added greatly
toward the program. The result was tremendous.

During the camp, many children had
their first opportunity ever to work on a computer. Others had an opportunity to
develop their public speaking skills, while younger children developed their
sense of self-assurance and pride through dance and floral art projects. It was
amazing to hear a 14 year old share her wish to open a floral boutique when she
finishes school. 
Two of the ANORMA members showing a young girl how to do floral art with paper

The closing ceremony was the perfect
time for ANORMA to give thanks to Save the Children for all their support which
led to the successful camp, and share how all the participants had developed new
skills – how to be a better artist, a designer and a better person.  ANORMA’s goal
is to continue to work with the community by supporting local schools and to work
towards becoming a notable training center in the region.

Save the Children’s work with local
partners like ANORMA, training them in school management and capacity building,
assures a smooth and efficient transition of all the activities the
organization has provided.     The achievement of ANORMA’s first summer camp is
not just a reward for Save the Children,but also a sign of what can be
accomplished in the face of adversity.

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Day 2: Za’atari Refugee Camp

Anoymous womanTorrey Taussig

Zarqa, Jordan

January 10, 2013


Strength, Kindness and Patience in Humanity  

Outside of Al Mufraq, about 12 KM (8 miles) from the Syrian border, lies Za’atari Refugee Camp. Approaching the camp is somewhat like approaching the end of the earth, and flat, desolate land stretches out in all directions. There is very little vegetation or life in the area, and with today’s rain, wind and cold temperatures, the setting was even bleaker.

On a numbers basis, the Za’atari refugee camp is nothing short of a miracle, especially when one considers the sheer number of people flooding into the once barren dessert site. The camp currently has around 60,000 people living there, and is receiving between 1,000 to 1,400 people a night. Nearly 1,800 people crossed the border and entered into the camp on a single night this past week. The numbers are unfathomable, and difficult for the mind to grasp, and even more so when one takes into consideration the amount of food, shelter and health services being provided to all of the refugees on a daily basis.

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Save the Children has about 120 staff there (it was the first organization to respond at Za’atari) and is working with other organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and others to provide the best care that they can, although the conditions get more and more difficult by the day. Everyone who comes to the camp is now staying for the foreseeable future. Before, around 150 people used to leave a day- some going back to Syria, others being taken in by Jordanian host communities or families. Now very few, if any, return to Syria.

Driving down the long straightaway to the front of the camp, you can only see flat land sectioned off by barbed wire fence, giving a sense of going into a closed off zone. At the entrance to the camp, the security presence is heavy.

Upon entering, we could see the entrepreneurial spirit of the people right away. Some tents around the entrance are being used as shops and small markets, sporadically set up by the Syrians as a way of obtaining different commodities and earning a small amount of money.

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We first went to the food distribution areas, where there are huge tents set up for daily bread distribution and bi-weekly distribution of food kits. Depending on the number of members in a family, each family is given a number and told when it is their turn to pick up their food boxes, which include salt, oil, lentils, rice and bulgur wheat, enough to last for about two weeks.

The distribution tents are divided in two, one half for the men and the other for the women. The woman side tended to be more orderly and quiet, slightly less raucous than the male distribution side. Regardless, everybody waited patiently for their food kits to be distributed to them, and smiled as we walked by. The food distribution sites are kept orderly by gates and single points of entrances and exits.

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Next we went to the school, which was constructed with great efficiency and care by the Bahrain government. The school is a more permanent structure than the dense population of tents growing outside of its walls, and each room has a space heater; a rare commodity that is unseen among the tents where the Syrians are living.

There, we met with Save the Children staff and a psychologist, who is working with some of the children, mostly on issues pertaining to violence that they have seen. The school is composed of children ages six to eighteen.  It can hold around 2,000 children at a time and the classes are taught by Jordanian teachers and Syrian teaching assistants who are refugees in the camps themselves. They teach the Jordanian curriculum, and we learned that the children had their end of semester exams approaching! Despite the added stress that may come along with the exams, the structure provides activity, continuity and a small amount of normalcy for the children whose lives have been uprooted since they left their homes many months, and sometimes over a year ago.

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Inside the classrooms, there are wooden desks and chalkboards. There are many pictures and writings on all of the desks, including pictures of the Syrian flags, and hearts. On others, the students have written poetry, writings of peace and in once instance, a short paragraph saying: Do not be afraid to write, my pen. Life is a memory. Freedom and pain are forever.

Writing, and art, can be a form of healing and expression at a time when there are no other ways to voice their fears, hopes and dreams for the future.

Save the Children recently put together a small book of children’s pictures, where the Syrian children sketched their hopes, dreams and aspirations for the coming year. Many drew pictures of flowers, Syrian flags, clothing and included inscriptions such as, I wish…

To go back to Syria

To go home

A doll and toys

Warm clothing

To see my brother back in Syria

To be back in my room

To be happy, joyful,

That my life will be full of roses

These are simple dreams, simple aspirations that many of us would take for granted. For all of the children in the Za’atari refugee camp, their homes are now tents in a cold and wintry desert. Unlikely to happen upon a rose anytime soon, they will, like all children, just continue to dream.

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We next went to Save the Children’s kindergarten area where a teacher-training session was taking place. Despite the grey skies and barren tents, the muddy paths and the large puddles of water developing on the main roads, the atmosphere was immediately filled with color, light and joy as soon as pulled open the entrance to the early childhood center tents. The space is covered with a bright red carpet depicting cartoon characters, and the every corner of the tent is filled with toys and red, yellow and blue chairs. At a small table on the side of the room, a teacher training was going on with both Jordanian and Syrian “animators” (a term used by Save the Children to describe the volunteers working with children in the early childhood centers.) The young women, many of whom are refugees themselves, greeted us with smiles, waving and singing, and seemed particularly joyful that morning. We all participated in a training activity using brightly colored balloons, meant to be an icebreaker game for the children.

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Save the Children is also caring for unaccompanied minors, children who came without families and are alone for a number of reasons. Some include that their mothers did not want to leave their homes in Syria, that they stayed behind to take care of a newborn or very young child, or because their mothers did not want their sons recruited and sent them to the borders for their own safety.

Before leaving, we visited the spaces where the unaccompanied minors are staying who have not yet been assigned to a tent. We spoke to one fourteen-year old boy, who was waiting in the trailer lined with cots, blankets, and a few other boys around his age. His hand was swollen from an injury that he incurred from mortar shelling, and he came to the camps for treatment and physical therapy. He told Save the Children that when he is better, he will return to Syria where the rest of his family has stayed behind. For him, there does not seem to be a doubt in his mind that he will return as soon as he is better.

We then left the camp to head back to Amman for the night. The rain was not letting up, and the increasingly worsening weather only stood to prove how much the refugees are in need of supplies and clothing to help keep them warm. Yet at the end of the day, even among such dire circumstances, hope was ever present and the human spirit indomitable.

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Day 1: The Jordanian Host Communities

Anoymous womanTorrey Taussig

Zarqa, Jordan

January 9, 2013


 Resiliency

Today we visited the host communities throughout Amman where Syrian refugees are being welcomed into neighborhoods by local Jordanians. The government has accepted them into local schools and Save the Children is working to help support their time in Jordan, which for some has been over a year. Save the Children is running cash voucher programs at community centers, along with resiliency programs and child friendly spaces throughout the neighborhoods for refugees and local Jordanian children. The resiliency programs are teaching children the skills they need to be accepted and get along with their new classmates and companions. The child friendly spaces give children an opportunity to participate in structured activities such as drawing and talking about their lives and communities in Syria and their lives now.

The Save the Children Community Center: Zarqa

 Our first visit was to a local community center on the outskirts of Amman where Save the Children was organizing a large-scale cash voucher system for Syrian refugee families. The cash vouchers can be used people can use for food at different markets in the area with whom Save the Children has agreements and remain valid for two weeks. The amount of cash in the vouchers depends on the number of members in the family. We learned that the cash vouchers are better than food distributions because it allows the families to purchase what they need and do the shopping themselves rather than queue in line for distribution.

Each of the vouchers had a serial number on them, as opposed to names, to protect the identity of the families. Then, different numbers get called on different days, and families know when they need to come and collect their vouchers.

The front of the center was a busy scene, with dozens of people leaning over the registration desk, attempting to register and find out when they would be allowed to pick up their vouchers. The back room was calmer, with people, almost all adults, calmly waiting for their numbers to be called. At this point, the program is a well-oiled machine and staff are able to efficiently locate the vouchers for the families and get through the lines of people quickly.

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As we were leaving, we stopped to talk with a few people waiting outside. On was a man in his mid-twenties holding his niece, who was still a baby. She was wearing a small sweatshirt and sweatpants, clearly growing out of them as her uncle tried to pull the bottom of her pants back over her bare ankles. He told us that they had been in Jordan for four months now, and that his greatest needs were food and warm clothing for his family.

Standing next to them was a mother with a young son, who was shivering and looking down at the ground. The mother explained that he, along with his younger sister, were blind and desperately in need of winter clothes. Only wearing a light sweater and jeans, the boy was clearly not prepared for the windy and rainy (and sometimes snowy) months ahead. The mother spoke calmly, yet was visibly upset, as she explained her family’s situation, which now consists of living with over twenty-seven family members in a single apartment. Their family had been in Jordan for a year, always thinking that their return was right around the corner until another moment when the conflict would worsen and their time as refugees would remain interminable for the foreseeable future.

Children’s Resiliency Programs: Amman

Out next visit was to see Save the Children’s resiliency programs in another neighborhood in Amman where Syrian refugees are living. When we entered into the building, we were met by dozens of young children, all of whom were Syrian refugees, and who were waving, smiling and laughing. They were partaking in an exercise run by Save the Children staff, in which they were learning to breakdown barriers and get along with other children. Sometimes, we were told, refugees are excluded by others in the host communities, and these activities teach them how to get along with their new classmates, and help them assimilate into their new neighborhoods and surroundings.

The children were acting out and role-playing different situations where one child was being bullied or excluded, and they needed to find a way to incorporate them into their group. All of the acts were very well done, and received standing ovations by the rest of the young children in the classroom when they were finished.

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Next, we all got a chance to play the human knot game, where you link hands with others in your circle and then try to disentangle yourself from the group. Although we all ended up falling down in fits of laughter, still completely tangled in our groups, it was refreshing and endearing to see just that, children laughing and playing, as if they had no other cares in the world.

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We were soon reminded, however, that their lives are far from simple. One girl, nine years old, was sitting outside of the classroom. With deep brown eyes and short brown hair, wearing a long red coat, she was sitting quietly on a couch, talking to a Save the Children staff member, as she kicked her small feet back in forth, only reaching halfway to the ground. We were told that she had lost ten members of her family that very morning. When speaking to another staff member, the young girl quietly said that her father had been shot, but did not go on any further. She did, however, go on to say that she wanted to be at the child friendly space, to be with other kids her age and to play, because, as she explained, she is only a child and she deserves to play.

The stories of the other children went untold, and one can only imagine the atrocities that they have been through and what unimaginable tragedies they have already faced in such short lives. And yet, they sing and dance like other children, they draw pictures of their families, their homes, and the lives they used to live. For some, this was the only classroom-like experience they have ever had, since many are from rural areas from the south of Syria and did not attend school. Despite a lack of formal education, almost all of them dreamed to grow up and become doctors, while others mentioned they wanted to be carpenters and teachers. One very outspoken boy stood up, pointed to himself and with a big smile said that he wanted to grow up and be a “manager.” 

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They seemed happy for the chance to be children again; to laugh, to dance and sing, to dream, and to have a piece of their childhood back. While there were so many children, there are so little signs of childhood except for those experiences afforded to them by Save the Children and other organizations working to help them.

Child Friendly Spaces: East Amman, Zarqa, Ramtha, Mafraq, Irbid  (Center and North of Jordan)

Save the Children (STC) is also running Child Friendly Spaces throughout the host-communities in Amman and Zarqa (Central Jordan), Ramtha, Mafraq and Irbid (North of Jordan), where refugee children come and have structured activities run for them by the STC animators. A consistent theme of the programs and spaces run by the organization are the warmth and color and energy. When we arrived, the children were drawing pictures of their communities, and identifying what they considered to be safe and then more dangerous spaces. Some are still depicting scenes of violence, but overall, they were drawing what came naturally to them, things such as supermarkets, homes, mosques, and roads. Even through art, it is incredible to see the resiliency in these children, and the energy and joy they bring to every activity.

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