—The children growing up at the SOS Village in Damascus, Syria, are back at home nearly a month after they were evacuated because of security concerns.
The 156 children, along with 26 SOS Mothers and other staff, were safely evacuated from the SOS Village to other locations on Sept. 27. Several shells hit the SOS Village after the families had left, causing no injuries and little damage.
“When SOS mothers told the children that they would go back to the village, they were overjoyed,” said Rani Rahmo, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages (SOS) in Syria. “They started singing, jumping and chasing one another.”
SOS Mothers have started making breakfast in the SOS Village garden to help the children understand that the situation is safe. “We also have a psychologist working with the children,” Mr. Rahmo said. “One of the things they are doing to help them cope with what they have experienced is making handicrafts for a charity market.”
The families began returning to the SOS Village in Damascus on Oct. 21. The children are in school and also attended classes when they were staying in their temporary housing.
A child who is growing up at the SOS Village in Damascus smiles upon returning to his home.
The children were happy to be home, but they also expressed caution about the situation around the SOS Village in Damascus, which has been a home to vulnerable children since 1981.
“I felt sorry for my SOS Mom,” said a 13-year-old girl about the evacuation. “I knew that she was very uncomfortable because we were out of our home. She was trying to provide us with everything, but it was very hard for her. She was trying to make us feel better despite all the bad news we are hearing all the time.”
One 10-year-old boy said, “I always said that nothing scares me. But my feelings changed after what happened in the village, and I really don’t want any more action in my life. I want stability and peace.”
The decision to return to the SOS Village followed a security assessment, Mr. Rahmo explained. “The situation is safe at the moment and armed groups have left areas near the village.”
It was not the first evacuation for a few of the children and staff at the SOS Village in Damascus. Around 20 of those living there today were among the children and SOS Mothers who were relocated from the now-closed SOS Village in Aleppo, which closed in September 2012 because of security concerns.
“The children who came from the Aleppo village were very surprised to return home because they were thinking that it would be impossible to go back to the [Damascus] village and they would lose it just as they lost their old village”, Mr Rahmo said. “The return home gave them hope again.”
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