Ahmad finds a passion for drawing at World Vision Child-Friendly Space

Ahmad finds a passion for drawing at World Vision Child-Friendly Space
JOSEPHINE HADDAD, COMMUNICATIONS LEBANON 

Ahmad added a happy face to a flower he drew. The eyes he sketched with his favourite pencil were looking at the top right corner of the paper, where the big yellow sun was. The flower looked extremely happy after Ahmad finished drawing its big smile. When his teacher asked him about the exaggerated smile, “it’s a new day,” was his answer.
 
One would wonder where 13-year-old Ahmad, a Syria war child survivor, got his optimism and joy from. Images of streets in ruins, broken trees, and totalled houses were engraved in Ahmad’s mind throughout his first two years in Lebanon.
 
He was the eldest among his three brothers, so he remembered the violence the most. He also recalled how worried and sad he was the day his parents decided it was time to leave Syria in 2013. He did not want to leave home. “I had a daily thought, every morning, that this day would be our last day alive. I was always scared of my parents or brothers dying, but going the distance to Lebanon frightened me as well.”
 
Ahmad’s mother knew that leaving Syria was traumatising for all her children, but especially for Ahmad.
 
“I had nothing to do here in Lebanon, no friends to talk to, nowhere to go, and I missed home”, Ahmad admitted. “My mother sensed what I was feeling, and I worried her the most”. Two years later, Ahmad’s mother learned of the Child-Friendly Spaces.
 
The spaces provide children aged from three to six with Early Child Education and young refugees aged from six to twelve, like Ahmad, with psycho-social support. The activities are conducted in four community centres in Beqaa, Lebanon where these kids can learn, play, sing and spend valuable time with children of their own age.
 
Ahmad attended the Child-Friendly Spaces for a year, “People here tried to help us forget the brutality of the war, and they succeeded.”
 


He remembers finding a love for drawing and painting, it quickly became his favourite hobby. “In my first couple of days at the Child-Friendly Space, I engaged in the art activities so I can take them home and show my mother what I was up to during the day. But now, thanks to the Child-Friendly Space, drawing is my hobby, and I never had a hobby before”, he admitted.
 
Even after finishing his year at the Child-Friendly Space, Ahmad still works on his drawing skills by practicing daily. “It still takes my mind off the big things; like where will we be in a couple of years? Do we still have a house in Syria to go back to? Drawing helps me stop thinking.” He admitted.
 
“Ahmad is very talented, we used to show his drawings around and take pride in them,” said Khouzama, a teacher at the Child-Friendly Space, describing him as a fast learner and an extremely disciplined student.
 
“He still visits the centre from time to time, offers his help to younger children and draws funny faces to help cheer up the ones who are sad.” she continued. “He has a promising future.”
 
Now, Ahmed has returned to school, has found new friends and is eager to excel in his academic studies, gaining some of the highest marks amongst his peers.
 
Ahmad’s childhood was saved by the love of art, a couple of games, and a caring environment. The colourful walls and the friendly environment of Child-Friendly Spaces have become the safe haven for hundreds of refugee children who are now optimistic and joyful just like Ahmad. 
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