During a siege in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, bombs blasted, the sounds of shelling filled the air, and cries were heard. Amal’s three children were scared. She did what she could to protect them – trying to distract them from the conflict going on around them with games and toys.
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This is Amal’s story.
“My name is Amal. I am a mother of three. During one airstrike, I rushed with my children to a basement underneath a half-destroyed building. My children were terrified by the devastating noise caused by bombs and were screaming, crying loudly, trying to grab my hands, legs and dress.
I tried everything to calm them down, but they kept crying and holding me tight and using my dress to hide their faces. On this occasion, I had taken copies of a magazine to the basement with me. I took it out and started to read some stories. After three or four sentences, my children stopped crying and started listening. After a minute, they looked at me, exploring my face and my expressions while reading the story.
Then, remarkably, they sat down and started to listen to the story with full attention. They began to smile and ask questions about it. The atmosphere changed from being in a shelter avoiding bombs to a reading session in a kindergarten. All the children were listening and had gathered in a circle around me, wanting to hear more stories.
The stories explained why they were hiding in the basement, and what all the scary noises were.”
The magazines Amal shared with her children during the seige were produced by our partners in Syria, the Hurras Network.
‘Tayara Warak’ (meaning Kite in Arabic) is a project they have developed to help children deal with the stress of war and keep entertained in difficult times. The colourful “kite” magazines are filled with stories, songs, games, puzzles and handicrafts. They also include advice for children on what to do if they lose their family or are displaced, or how to protect themselves during shelling and violence.
The war in Syria has had a devastating effect on the country’s young people. The Hurras Network are working hard to provide them with urgent and critical protection. The kite magazines have reached over half a million children in worn-torn areas of Syria. Like Amal and her family.
The Hurras Network team believe that “the way to build a peaceful world is to plant it in children who will have the motivation to make change.”
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