10 September 2013

Opening New Doors for Children in Syria



9/10/2013: One million children have fled Syria since the onset of a brutal civil war that has lasted more than two years. Those who remain in the country seek refuge wherever they can - something that is in short supply in today’s Syria. Now, SOS Children’s Villages is addressing the needs of these children by getting them back to school, giving them access to a basic right - education.

Issa, age thirteen, was displaced last December when an outbreak of violence forced his family to flee their home in the Joubar suburb of Damascus. As a result of losing their home and all of their possessions, Issa’s parents could not afford to register him at another school. Their dwindling resources had to be used to purchase food and basic essentials, such as water. “We cannot afford to become ill, it is better to be cautious and prevent illness than going on the streets begging for money to pay for treatment,” says his mother. The family of five lives in a windowless storage area of six square meters. It is dark and damp, but they don’t complain - they, unlike many of their friends and family members, have a roof over their heads.

What concerns Issa’s parents most is his schooling. Knowing the value of education, his community in Damascus, a network of friends and family, has supported him as much as possible but resources are scarce. The leader of a local mosque helped register him in a nearby school. However, without any of the necessary items to go back to school - books, clean clothes, and pencils - Issa stands little chance of completing the seventh grade.

SOS Children’s Villages reaches out to Syrian youth

Issa and his family were among those who received some of the 60,000 cooked meals supplied by SOS Children’s Villages Syria in August. The SOS team became aware of Issa’s situation and stepped in to help him by supporting the efforts of his local community, giving him the tools to go back to school.  Before walking through the doors of his new school this September, Issa can look forward to receiving an SOS School Kit containing a book bag, school books, pencils and paper, and a uniform. He will also receive afterschool support to help catch up on the time that he lost after he fled his home in Damascus.

He is among 6,000 children supported by SOS Children’s Villages in an initiative that delivers Syria’s children their right to an education. Under the circumstances, Issa considers himself lucky; “I miss my old school, my friends, and my home. But I am happy to be here, safe with my parents and younger brothers; thank God we have a place to stay now”.

Issa, just like every child in the world, has a right to an education. Today, SOS Children’s Villages Syria is actively supporting such children in Damascus and Aleppo to make their right a reality.