It’s almost impossible to understand the devastating impact that the Syrian crisis is having on a generation of children.
Millions of children are experiencing things that no child ever should – losing family members, their homes and witnessing extreme violence. They are also missing out on many things that children need in order to grow – an education, interaction with other children and a sense of safety. World Vision Child Friendly Spaces in Jordan are directly addressing this.
The barren location of Azraq refugee camp
While in Jordan earlier this year I was able to spend some time visiting the Child Friendly Spaces within Azraq refugee camp that were funded through last year’s 40 Hour Famine. Bleak and bare – this refugee camp is no place for an active, growing child.
These spaces are somewhat of an oasis amidst the desert landscape of the camps. Visually, the bright green football pitch and the colourful flags and playground within the spaces contrasts strongly against the dusty, white landscape of the camps. More than that however, these places are a mental and emotional oasis for these children.
Child Friendly Spaces are the light that is breaking through the dark memories that often fill these children’s minds.
Julia at a Child Friendly Space in Jordan
These Child Friendly Spaces are safe, supportive learning environments where kids have access not only to education, but also to arts, sports and counselling that enables them to start healing from the trauma of war and just be kids once again.
World Vision recruits and trains qualified staff from the local community or those living within the refugee camps to teach in these schools. Therefore these centres are not just giving children another chance, but are also providing a job and sense of purpose to many adults within the camp. World Vision helps these teachers design culturally appropriate activities and trains them to identify children who need medical care or specialist counselling for long-term trauma.
Child Friendly Spaces are important because they provide a sense of safety and stability to those attending them.
Many of the children that I spoke to had been out of school for months, or even years because of the war, so these centres were giving them access to education once again - restoring a sense of hope for their future.
An amazing example of this is the story of Ahmed, a boy I met in Azraq refugee camp whose life had been transformed through the Child Friendly Spaces. Ahmed told me that at the space he attended they ran a subject called innovation. Within this class, students are encouraged to come up with creative solutions and new ideas to address the issues they see around them. Ahmed had seen the need for better water systems within Azraq camp, where he was living, and so during this class he drew up designs for a water filtration system. Incredibly, the United Nations officials in the camp heard about his designs and are now in the process of implementing an amended version of them into Azraq camp!
Ahmed was only one of the many children we met whose lives were being transformed through the power of Child Friendly Spaces. Because of the money raised last year, more children like Ahmed now have access to this program. These spaces transform a place of hopelessness into a place of hope. To see the children laughing, learning and playing after the horror that many of them had been through brought tears of joy to my eyes. Thank you to everyone who fundraised for these spaces through last year’s 40-hour famine – they are truly making a significant difference!