Earthquakes will not stop Syria Children from Learning
Children of Syria are still calling for their right to receive an education.
War didn’t silence their voices, they kept getting louder than ever. “We want to go back to school” they kept chanting.
Despite the challenges, children are excited to enrol in schools and education programmes. Nine-year-old Sahar* is one of those who pursued her education through war and displacement.
Sahar* endured a life of instability, she had to abandon everything including her education when they first moved out of Northwest Syria. Shelling, indiscriminate attacks and frequent bombings made her family feel they were gambling with their lives with every second they remained.
As a result, they headed to a city in Northern Syria searching for peace of mind and a chance for Sahar to go back to school. However, as the family was looking for safety, little Sahar dropped out of school at the second grade.
Later, the family settled where her father could find a job to feed his family. This meant her hope in picking up where she left off quickly evaporated. Sahar couldn't go to school because the closest one to her new home was still miles away. “I was scared for her when she was going to school, it was a long and dangerous journey,” her father mentions. This meant she was falling behind.
However, her parents didn’t give up on their child’s right to receive education. So, her mother began home-schooling her using the available materials. Things weren't perfect but at least Sahar was learning.
Until the earthquake destroyed their home and the place where Sahar learns.
With every shake, Sahar was realising that her back-to-education journey was falling apart. When the earthquake subsided, the family evaluated the damage. Their house was a large pile of rubble and they’ve become among the 2.9 million people who were directly affected. They are homeless now and have to look for somewhere to stay. This meant risking their lives and returning back home.
A New Chapter for Sahar but does it Involve School?
Upon entering Northwest Syria, they were stunned by the amount of destruction. Entire blocks were in ruins. It wasn’t just their home, but schools, hospitals even temporary shelters. Almost 11,000 buildings were completely demolished or deemed unsafe to live in. But this is all they have and a displacement camp is where they could go.
Somehow they settled giving the family a chance to think about the future of their child. They began encouraging Sahar to go back to school but it was not easy for her. With their constant support, she enrolled in her old school.
However, flashbacks from the earthquake began haunting her, she was studying when the house collapsed. “I am afraid to go to school. I don’t want the building to fall down when I start studying again. In the beginning I stayed alone, then couldn’t even go to school anymore,” Sahar explains.
Thankfully, Sahar’s school has an education project implemented by World Vision’s partner Takaful Al Sham. It integrates education and psychological support for children who survived the earthquake offering psychological support sessions, methods to integrate children with their classmates and ways to overcome stress and fear. It reached more than 1,340 children so far and Sahar was one of them.
While Sahar was facing difficulties in blending into her environment, a psychological support facilitator, Dina* noticed her behaviour. She was concerned and contacted her parents regarding her irregular school attendance. The mother explained why her daughter was terrified of school and together they worked to understand more and resolve the situation.
Slowly, Sahar’s true personality began shining through. When she began participating in psychological support activities, sessions and back-to school-campaigns, her fear slowly subsided. Dina’s support went a long way “she takes care of me, encourages me checks on my needs and is in constant contact with my mother,” Sahar mentions. Soon after, Sahar took an education level test- to measure her education level and later was placed in the second grade to pursue her education. She was ready to build her future and didn't skip a day of school!
Her mother mentions, “Sahar’s mental state improved, she’s more social. I pray it stays this way”. Sahar also happily mentions, “I have five friends. We play together, they’re like my sisters. I love teacher Dina who helped me to go back to school,” The feelings of pride are what makes Sahar’s story special. She was able to overcome her fear and dream of a better future despite all the hardships, “I want to finish my education and be a doctor!” Sahar shares.
The implementation of such integrated education and psychological support project for the children affected by the earthquake are crucial. They are the first step toward a healthy and successful future.