Shadi proudly holds up the drawing he has just finished. “I drew many types of fruit like bananas, oranges and mandarins,” he says. “It’s been a very long time since I ate fruit.”
Fruit used to be plentiful when he lived in Aleppo, but since war took over the country, it’s been difficult to find even a single fresh orange. He’s only 11 years old, but he has experienced horror that no child should ever have to go through: war and unrelenting violence, living in a city under siege with little or no food, and having to hide in basements too scared to go to school or play outside. This is no childhood.
You only have one childhood. Can you imagine it being filled with fear and uncertainty?
Thanks to Unicef-supported programmes, children like Shadi have the opportunity to play, learn and remember what it’s like to be a child. The programmes, which are designed to help children cope with the horror and trauma they have experienced, encourage children to participate and engage in a range of activities. Staff at the centres also identify children in need of special care and refer them to local service providers.
What does psychosocial support mean?
Unicef runs psychosocial support programmes as part of our long-term response for Syrian children. These programmes encourage children to participate in a range of activities – including music, sport, art and play, as well as highlighting if a child needs special care.
Many of these programmes take place in child-friendly spaces, which are safe spaces for learning and play, equipped with education materials, toys and trained staff. Child-friendly spaces are different from formal education centres or schools because they do more than just teaching.
Scroll through the photo gallery below to see what children can do in the child-friendly spaces.
The impact of Unicef’s child-friendly spaces for Syrian children
Over 8 million of Syria’s children have had their childhoods torn apart by war. We are one of the few humanitarian organisations working inside Syria, as well as in the surrounding countries, providing long-term support to help children, young people and families rebuild their lives.
This year, we’ve reached 328,371 children with non-formal education programmes inside Syria. Additionally, over 500,000 children in neighbouring countries have benefited from structured and sustained psychosocial support programmes.
But there is still more to do. By making a donation, you could help us heat a child-friendly space this winter. A donation of £100 will pay for a heater and fuel for a child-friendly space in a refugee camp, bringing safety, warmth and happiness to many children.