Youssef* is a 13-year-old boy who lives in Tariq Al Bab region with his parents and seven siblings. However, after having lost their father and young sister under the rubble of war-torn buildings, Youssef family decided to leave their house and seek Jibreen shelters. Today, Youssef is partly responsible for their sustainability.
Shortly after Youssef’s family left, they heard about SOS’s Child Friendly Space Center. His younger siblings went there and enjoyed many activities. They were very happy and told their brother, Youssed, about it. Youssed was glad for his siblings, and wished to go to the center with them, but unfortunately, the boy had to work from 7 pm to come back to the shelter before midnight, with no desire other than going to bed.
SOS’ psychologist heard about the poor case of Youssef. Thus, she paid his family a visit to help the boy regain a part of his lost childhood. She met Youssef and encouraged him to go to our CFS. At first, he reluctantly went. However, after many visits, he was so happy that you could find him excitedly waiting at the center’s door for the activities to begin, which helped him forget about his troubles.
“When Youssef first entered SOS’ CFS, he was withdrawn and aggressive to his siblings and friends. Five months later, his behavior started to change. He became cooperative with SOS’ team members and was willing to help the children with the activities.” Laila, A CFS team member said about Youssef’s development.
Laila goes on to say, “when I saw Youssef at the center, I could see grief in his little face. When I asked, “how are you doing, Youssef?” the boy sighed and said,” Tired, but thank God.” Then he started telling his sad story like an old man whose life had loaded him a lot.
“It was relatively quiet at the beginning of the war. A year ago, however, missiles started to shower us. We put up with all the horror and destruction, until part of our house went down, swallowing my father and youngest sister underneath. My mother, siblings, and I were slightly injured too. Thus, we decided to take my siblings and run away, leaving all our memories behind. We temporarily moved to a nearby region, to live even harsher days because of the siege that the area underwent, which left us no other food than the grass. It did not stop here, the missiles also strove for us in this new place, and people started running in panic. I ran with them too, but found myself alone and away from my family. I took some shelter at a random house’s bath until the next morning, and started my journey to find my family back. On my way I was shocked to find out that my father and youngest sister were swallowed under the rubble of a destroyed building.” Youssef said, bitterly.
“May you live long and healthy for all the help and support you gave us. You gave us all we need and want in this morbid place of deprivation and sorrow. I am glad now that I can play around with my siblings again. I used to come back from work exhausted, unwilling to play with anyone. My smile was even bigger when you played Tom and Jerry; a cartoon I used to enjoy watching at our house before we depart.” Said little Youssef upon asking him about SOS’ Child Friendly Space (CFS).
“I hope war ends in Syria. Then, I could go back to my original school and buy a bike to play with my friends”. Said Youssef.
Youssef is a case out of 3000 children whom SOS’ CFS received to make up for a war-wounded childhood, and to provide with all needed activities and psychosocial support services. SOS Syria provides child friendly spaces, supports education for children, offers humanitarian relief to vulnerable families, and cares for children who have lost parents or are waiting to re-join their families.