Our Child Friendly Spaces are helping children re-learn how to play

Our Child Friendly Spaces are helping children re-learn how to play
Pictured: “I didn’t draw before because there were no colours,” says Sarah*, 11 years old while colouring. “The first time I drew again was last Sunday. It made me so happy! So today I have drawn a heart. It’s the hearts of all of us coming together again.”


“This is actually the only space where these children can come and feel safe while having fun,” says Ms Jamil, collecting the children’s drawings. “It’s really important to have a space in these camps where they can go to forget what they’ve been through during life under ISIL and learn to be children again.”

Zelican camp is home to a growing number of people fleeing conflict since the operation to retake Mosul began. Two years of life under ISIL has taken a severe toll on many children’s emotional and mental health. More than 15,000 children have been displaced since 17 October; some have fled under gunfire, lost family members and witnessed violent events. 

Deep within Zelican camp, skirted by newly constructed tents, World Vision’s Child Friendly Space provides a safe space where children can play games, draw and regain a sense of normality against the chaos (pictured).

Many of the children arrived at the camp terrified, unable to socialise with other children and scared of adults.

In an emergency setting such as this, research has proven that it’s essential for their health and development to feel safe, secure and have the ability to enjoy childhood activities to regain a sense of regularity.

The children were confused when they were invited to draw and paint, says Dejin Jamil, World Vision’s Project Coordinator at the camp. “‘It wasn’t a familiar concept for them. When we gave them paper to draw, they recreated war scenes, drawing tanks and warplanes.”


Pictured: A drawing from one of the children at the Child Friendly Space  

Little by little, the children have been growing in confidence and becoming more comfortable in expressing themselves through play.

Each day, the children come to the space where activities are run by skilled Child Protection Officers, trained in providing child-based psychological and social support.

*names have been changed to protect the children’s identities