With No Way to Return Home, Syrian Refugees in Iraq Live in Limbo

The boy standing in the cement block doorway called to us to take his picture.  We couldn’t resist his bright smile in the bleak and dust of the refugee camp.  We went over and snapped a few shots and he looked at them proudly on our cell phones.  His uncle, who was hovering close by, came to talk with us and soon we were sitting in their one-room cinderblock home, sipping warm Coca-Cola in tiny glasses.  Nawzad’s father, uncle and mother told us how the two families had ended up here in Domiz, a refugee camp near the border with Syria. They picked up and left when there was no longer a village, no house and no jobs to keep them there – no home to stay for.

 

Carolyn talks to Syrian refugees in the Domiz Refugee Camp
Photo Credit: Sebastian Meyer/Getty Images
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Cultural tips to consider when writing to children

DSCN1510Soungalo Kone, Sponsorship-funded Basic Education Manager

Bamako, Mali

May 30, 2013


My
colleagues and I feel truly privileged to be able to count on the ongoing generosity
of sponsors in our journey to ensuring a better future for poor children in our
part of the world. As I write this post, over 23,000 of you are tirelessly supporting
our activities, sponsoring roughly an equal number of children through our
Sponsorship Program.

Sponsorship
has many gratifying aspects. One of them is that special, one-on-one bond that
develops between a sponsor and their sponsored child over the years. With this
in mind, our staff puts a lot of effort into ensuring every sponsor experience with
us is a truly enjoyable one. This blog post is one of those efforts, suggesting
content you may want to include when writing to your sponsored child.

Going to school – an essential right for kids

Children
have many rights including accessing quality, age-appropriate education.
Communities expect non-family members, such as sponsors, to constantly remind children
of this important right and make sure they take full advantage of it. Parents
feel eternally grateful to those sponsors who talk about the benefits of
education in their letters and encourage children to be regular school-goers
and hard learners.

“Hearing
a different voice singing the praise of education could carry more meaning for
my child than the daily advice from me or his mother” says Seydou Bengaly, the
father a 9-year-old sponsored boy. This feeling is shared by many community
members who, despite the pervasive poverty that continues to be their bane, try
to see that children enjoy their right to education as much as possible.

Learning social values – a fundamental duty for children

People
in Mali, especially in rural areas, put a high premium on social morés and
values such as respect, sharing, help, sense of responsibility, etc. They do
their best to ensure these principles are inculcated into children so they will become
successful adults. However, parents are aware that it’s not (and should not be)
the sole responsibility of the family to bring up children and introduce them
to socially acceptable manners. Given the sociable and extroverted nature of
Malian communities, children interact with others daily. Everybody, sponsors
included, can play a role in ensuring children learn the basic tenets of
society.

Identifying
one’s self as a man or woman

Names
in Mali are typically different than those used in the West. Children often have
difficulty recognizing from a name whether their sponsor is a male or female. This
cultural issue is best addressed by including a picture of yourself or saying in
your letter whether you are a woman or man.

Finally,
remember that whatever you say in your
letters, the most important thing is that you communicate. Why not write to
your sponsored child today?

Brighten your sponsored child’s day – and future – by writing a letter today.

If you are not already a sponsor, become one today.