Tuesday 22 October 2013

“I was a very lonely girl in Syria, I hated to socialize with people,” said 17 years old Nada who has been attending Save the Children’s Youth Multi Activity Centres for eight months, “I didn’t have much confidence in myself and I was always aggressive with children younger than me,” she continued. 

Nada escaped the violence in Syria with 10 months ago and found refuge in Za’atari with her parents and younger siblings. After completing seventh grade, Nada dropped out of school due to her low scores and failing mathematics. She has been helping around the household ever since. 

 “Nada has family issues. She is continuously being put down by her family because she is a girl, she was made to believe that she is only good for housework as the only thing she will do in life is be a housewife. It had an enormous effect on her confidence,” said Razan a Save the Children social worker who has been working closely with Nada for eight months.   

Save the Children’s Multi-Activity Centres provide a safe space for the adolescents and youth in the camp, to play, make friends, learn skills and languages. As part of their schedules at the centre, the girls also engage in psychosocial activities which help them build resilience by sharing their thoughts through different channels of communication. 

“I first heard about the centre from girls around my tent who encouraged me to join them to the sessions telling me I will learn fun things like knitting, but my parents were against letting me leave our tent on my own,” said Nada.   

Through their community outreach Save the Children’s social workers approached Nada’s mother and explained the purpose of the youth friendly centres.

“When I came to the centre I made the decision to look forward, start fresh and put everything negative behind me including my defensive personality. I think you need to have that perception when you’re living as a refugee, and it becomes more important if we go back to Syria and want to rebuild our country. I began to open up in the sessions here and go to the social workers for advice and tell them my worries and thoughts. I trust them with everything, they are angels here to all of us” said Nada, “I began to have friends. I learned my rights as a child and a female in this project. I look back at myself before coming to the sessions, and I see a girl with a dark heart, but today I am the complete opposite.”

Nada’s favorite activity is the HEART sessions where the girls and social workers sit in a big circle, listen to relaxing music and shares their thoughts. She also enjoys knitting, soap and textile making. At the centre the girls learn English, French, mathematics, and physical education.

“Her weekness was mathematics, so we focused on improving Nada’s skillsin math through games and practical activties, and soon enough she was mulptiplying correctly which gave her the confidence to participate more and she became enthusiastic about learning more,” said Razan, “the things she used to say were impossible for her to do, she is now passionate about learning how to achieve them. This project gave her ambitions that she never had.”

It is critically important to maintain these spaces within Za’atari – to give children and youth a safe and comfortable environment to learn skills, make new friends, and find new ways to cope with the new future they now face. 

“For me these skills benefit me more than what I would learn in school. Learning how to sew and knit allows me to make my own clothing instead of buying it, and maybe even open a shop and sell my creations in the future,” she said, “even my parents are proud of the things I make and bring home.”