Laila Develops a Positive Attitude

Wednesday 18 September 2013


“My daughter has a speech and hearing problem due to birth complications. Everyone had trouble understanding what she was trying to say; she would clench her fists in frustration and become cranky.” explains Hala, the mother of six year old Laila.

As the youngest of her four siblings, Laila requires the most attention in her family. A shortage of oxygen during birth affected her hearing, which has since caused slurred speech. The whole family has been living in Za’atri camp for the past one year, where they found refuge after escaping the violence in Syria.

Hala shared, “Laila angrily grabbed my arm and led me towards what she wanted whenever I had trouble understanding her. We took her to different doctors and treatment centers back home but nothing made a difference.”

Laila’s speech deteriorated when the fighting began in Syria, She developed a fear of the dark, and stopped trying to pronounce words; it was just screams and whining.”

A Save the Children social worker approached Laila’s mother during their first week at the camp and explained the concept of Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) established by Save the Children and UNICEF. She encouraged Laila to attend the CFS to learn, play and make new friends. CFSs are providing quality educational and protection services to assist the healing process of children from physical and psychosocial harm and directly promoting their cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing.

“I liked the idea of a safe space in the camp for Laila.” said Hala. “I visited the CFS before sending her there. The children were drawing and painting and I thought Laila might learn to express herself using that kind of language.”

Soon after Laila began attending the CFS, some children informed her mother that she was very aggressive – something not unusual for her but certainly disturbing for other children.

Hala spoke to the social worker who worked with Laila and suggested ways in which they can deal with her daughter and how to understand her better.

Slowly Laila began to exhibit changes. “We were very surprised when she asked for her brother to come join her at the CFS,” said Hala, “We were so proud of her!”

Throughout this year, Laila’s progress has been closely monitored by the Save the Children team at the CFS. She now counts from one to five and the words are comprehensible. She calls out her siblings’ names clearly and has learned to draw when people around her cannot understand her.

Hala shared, “Laila has developed a positive attitude. She is always laughing and extremely enthusiastic about the activiteis. She is our family’s bundle of joy! When I speak to our relatives abroad, they cannot believe the drastic improvement in Laila. Her change occurred only after after she went to the CFS. She got the hope and support needed to improve herself.”

Hala concluded, “Sometimes when I think about how far she’s come along, I tell her father I feel like I’m dreaming.”