Syria was the land where Yasser* opened his eyes and lived his early childhood, surrounded by his parents, siblings and friends. The idea of leaving his homeland to start a new life in Jordan never crossed his mind. Until the unexpected Syrian war broke out, changing the normal course of the family’s life into forced displacement and uncertainty about what the present and the future holds for them.
Displacement came with numerous struggles on the psychological, social, and financial levels for the family. When they first arrived to Jordan in 2014, Yasser and his family did not have the financial means to rent a house or to sustain their needs. They lived with a relative for a while before Yasser’s older brother managed to work in a pastry shop to support the family needs. The war and the displacement also took a heavy toll on Yasser as he was injured in his leg when he was in Syria, which caused him unbalanced walking. The injury was physically and emotionally painful for him. The twelve-year-old child also missed three years of schooling in Jordan.
In order to support Yasser and 269 Jordanian and Syrian refugee children, SOS Children’s Villages established a programme in Amman, in collaboration with a community-based organisation, that targets school dropouts and children who were never enrolled in education. The provided Arabic, English, and maths classed are based on the Jordanian curriculum to facilitate the children’s transition back to formal education. The project also provides psychosocial support to the participants through group and one-on-one sessions that include life skills workshops and psychological support, in the aim of improving the emotional state of children, which would consequently lead to better outcomes resulting from the attended classes.
Going back to classroom was not easy for Yasser after his education was suspended at fourth grade, for three years. He had difficulties in the beginning, especially with English. However, he was a brave child, very perseverant and eager to learn. In 9 months only, Yasser could successfully catch up on the three years education that he had missed. So that he could be enrolled in formal education again, SOS staff liaised with the Jordanian ministry of education to allow Yasser to take a level exam to determine which class he will be joining when he goes back to school. To encourage him, his psychologist was with him on the day of the exam. “Don’t worry Yasser, I am sure you will do well in the exam, just read carefully the questions and stay focused,” she told him. Yasser had very good results in the exam and it was decided that he will start in eighth grade in September 2018, as if he had never missed one single school year !
“I love school, my favourite subject is Arabic, I like reading and writing it. I know that with education I can have a good future, I want to become an architect when I grow up”. Said Yasser.
When he first joined the programme in April 2017, Yasser was very shy and socially isolated. He used to avoid speaking to anyone, and his leg injury affected his self-confidence and made him feel inferior. Thanks to the psychological plan set for him and to the regular support and follow up from the psychologist, he improved significantly. He now has good and easy interactions with his friends and teachers. He also started accepting his physical condition and does no longer see it as an obstacle to living a normal life and enjoying his childhood.
“Looking from my window, I was very surprised and happy to see Yasser playing football and laughing with children from the neighbourhood”. Said Asma, psychologist at SOS Children’s Villages.
Despite experiencing war, wound, and displacement, Yasser was brave and receptive to the educational and psychological plan that was tailored for him. He was able to get back important aspects of his childhood and to have look positively to the future.
*The name of the child was changed to protect his privacy