AL-SABBOURA, Syria—Ahmad remembers very clearly the day his father was killed.
“My uncle called us saying that he is coming to pick us up in his pick-up truck,” said Ahmad, 12. “We packed our bags and furniture. My father sat on the edge to keep them from falling. Mortars fell behind us while we were trying to make our way out.”
After struggling to survive in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Damascus, Ahmad and his family were leaving to find a new home.
Just a few moments into their journey, shrapnel from an exploding mortar struck Ahmad’s father in the chest, killing him instantly. The shirt of Ahmad’s father was drenched in blood; his body fell off the car and onto the side of the road.
“I watched his body getting smaller and smaller as the car moved away until it disappeared. I never imagined it would be the last time I would see my father,” said Ahmad.
Ahmad and his family would then move in with his grandmother. One day at his new school, he decided not to join his friends outside for recess because he had a headache. While peering through the window, he saw a mortar explode and kill his friends who were outside playing.
After living with his grandmother for two years, his family decided to move back to the same house from which they had fled. Soon after returning, his mother lost her job at a mayonnaise factory, and as a result, she could no longer provide for Ahmad or his younger brother.
In December 2014, Ahmad and his brother were welcomed into a temporary home outside Damascus that SOS Children’s Villages (SOS) opened for children who have been separated from their families.
There are also children like Ahmad who know where their families are but because of the war, their families can’t provide their children with basic necessities such as food and a safe place to live.
Children and staff at the SOS Children's Villages Temporary Care Center outside Damascus.
At the temporary home, there are 16, well-trained caregivers who are looking after about 94 children, 63 of whom have lost at least one parent. Several of the children were found wandering the streets alone, not sure where they were or where their family had gone.
SOS is working hard to reunite the children with their families. The children whose family members have died will be welcomed into the SOS village located outside Damascus. SOS is also working to rebuild the capacity of Syrian mothers and fathers who have asked SOS to look after their children until they can adequately provide for them.
When a member of the SOS emergency response team in Syria had a chance to sit down with Ahmad, she asked him if he could remember happier days, days before the war broke out:
“I remember me and my family walking under the sun in the hot summer beside the citadel. We stopped every single day among the crowds in front of a famous ice cream shop, waiting patiently for our turn,” he said. “My father used to buy all of us ice cream and sing to my little brother on the way back. I remember the shining stars…with the sound of children and people laughing. I wish we were stuck in that memory forever. I wish there was no war in my country.”
With the conflict in Syria now in its fifth year, Syrian children urgently need our support to defend their rights and ensure their protection. Join SOS Children’s Villages in telling world leaders to prioritize and protect Syrian children.