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After years of war, some Syrian youth ‘don’t know they are still just children’

Last week, Syria Direct’s Mohammed Al-Haj Ali volunteered to help […]

3 April 2016

Last week, Syria Direct’s Mohammed Al-Haj Ali volunteered to help around 6oo Syrian refugee orphans and other children in Irbid and Jerash in Jordan, teaching them about journalism, art and resilience.

Our reporter and approximately 30 other volunteers ran a series of five classes for the kids over the course of the four-day conference organized by Project Amal ou Salam (Project Hope and Peace). The children put on mock news broadcasts, made paper models of their hometowns and decorated flowerpots made from recycled bottles, all with an eye towards rebuilding Syria.

 The kids got their hands dirty, transforming plastic bottles into flowerpots. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Al-Haj Ali.

Project Amal ou Salam is a volunteer-run grassroots organization that holds workshops to “provide open dialogue, giving the kids a safe space to tackle issues that they face and develop their own ideas and visions for the future of Syria,” according to its website.

The organization also sponsors schools in Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon, providing classroom materials, money for rent and teachers’ salaries. Project Amal ou Salam also fully funds a school in Jerash that provides intensive education to Syrian refugee children who need to catch-up after missing years of classes so they can pass tests required to enroll in Jordanian schools.

But in areas where there are fewer Syrian refugees, these remedial schools often provide the only educational opportunities for Syrian children who often can’t go to Jordanian schools due to limited class sizes and resources, said Al-Haj Ali.

Anwar, a 15-year-old girl from Daraa who now lives in Jerash and attends the Project Amal ou Salam-run school there, particularly enjoyed the journalism class.

 In journalism class, the kids practiced their broadcasting skills. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Al-Haj Ali.

“I want to be a teacher and journalist and I hope to return to a Syria that is more beautiful than it was before.”

“What caught my attention was their happiness and laughter after receiving just simple, basic things,” said Al-Haj Ali.

One of the workshops involved painting Peace Flags. The main colors of the Syrian government and rebel flags—black, red and green—were deliberately left off the palette.

 Children thought about what peace means to them while painting Peace Flags. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Al-Haj Ali.

“Having just three or four colors of paint meant they had the whole world in their hands,” said Al-Haj Ali.

“They know where they come from and that they will return to Syria and they will rebuild it,” Nousha Kabawat, the 26-year-old founder and director of Project Amal ou Salam, told Syria Direct.

While most of the children enjoyed the activities and spending time with their peers, some felt it was a bit too childish, said Al-Haj Ali.

“They don’t realize they are still just children after everything that has happened.”

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