Children of Syria

Active in Syria since the 1970s, SOS Children’s Villages established an Emergency Response Program (ERP) in 2013 to provide a range of critical aid to vulnerable children and families. The support has evolved in the years since the ERP was set up, with a current focus on educational support, care centers for children who have been separated from their families, and child-friendly spaces.

Below are short stories about the children whose lives have been touched by our generous supporters.

Tarik, 17

Tarik* left school to join the Syrian Army when he was 15. He, like his parents and his brothers who were already in the army, believed that fighting was the only way to bring back the Syria they used to know.

While in the army, Tarik started visiting the SOS Children’s Villages child-friendly space in Aleppo. He began having sessions with a psychotherapist and interacting with other kids his age in a relatively safe, fun environment. Ultimately, Tarik decided to leave the army. He’s now studying for his high school exit exam and has dreams to be an architect so that he can rebuild Syria.

Abdul, 11

Abdul* and his family fled a suburb of Damascus a few years ago after it became the scene of constant, heavy shelling. Staff at SOS Children’s Villages Syria met Abdul while distributing food baskets to him and his family in a town that had become home to 1,500 internally displaced families. Most of them were not receiving food aid at the time because the town is far from Damascus and hard to reach.

Bakro Family

Our colleagues in Syria met the Bakro family in Aleppo in June 2015 while distributing food baskets to them. The family was living in a very dangerous, hard-to-reach neighborhood in Aleppo controlled by Islamist groups. In addition to the mortars that were falling every day near their house, these children and their family were at the mercy of snipers everyday—whether en route to school or walking to get drinkable water from the closest well. Thanks to our supporters, this family and 100 others received food.

Wael, 10

Wael was shot in the face by a sniper while standing on his balcony in a notoriously dangerous street in Aleppo. He survived, but his lower jaw was shattered. Thanks to our supporters, we were able to help Wael get the medical aid he needed to reconstruct his jaw. We later helped Wael and his family relocate to Latakia, a relatively safe coastal city in Syria.

Saleh, 10

Saleh* used to live in a very dangerous neighborhood outside Damascus that fell under ISIS control. He and 8 other family members were living with their grandfather because their fathers had either been killed or were still in the army. The grandfather couldn’t afford to provide for all 9 grandchildren. Thanks to our supporters, Saleh and two of his cousins are now at the SOS Interim Care Center in Damascus, where they go to school, receive counseling, healthy meals and have a supportive and relatively safe place to live.

Mustafa, 11

Mustafa* used to live in a besieged area outside Damascus called Douma. Food was scarce for his family so he would sneak out to a government-controlled area to work a day in exchange for food. He would then bring the food back to his family. However, one day he was caught by Islamists and thrown into prison. He stayed in prison for 2 months and when he left, his family was nowhere to be found and his home was destroyed. Mustafa is now at an SOS Interim Care Center near Damascus. The psychotherapist there says that he’s showing behavioral improvement. He is also registered for school and has begun planting trees again, something he used to do with his father before the war.

Haneen, 13

Haneen* and her family fled Deir Ezzor, a town in eastern Syria, after ISIS overtook it. The family relocated to a small town near Damascus but the father was out of work and could barely afford rent much less food for his children. Thanks to our supporters, Haneen and her family received much-needed food through our food aid program. Unfortunately, the family’s home was the site of a rocket attack that left Haneen and a number of her family members badly injured. Although Haneen recovered, the family decided to leave Syria for Europe in hopes of finding refuge.

*The names of the children were changed to protect their privacy.