Razan is an eight-year-old girl who lost her father when she was only six. He disappeared in 2016 and the family still has no news about him. This dramatic loss caused her mother severe depression. She was unable to take care of Razan and her seven-year-old brother.
Because of the abject poverty of the grandparents, they could only afford the expenses of their daughter. Therefore, they brought Razan and her brother to the SOS Children’s Village of Qudsaya in 2016. Unfortunately, this happened in a critical time, when the security situation deteriorated around the SOS village in Damascus.
The first day at the village was very strange for the little Razan. There was so much movement; she could not understand what was happening around her. She held her brother’s hand and sat on the sofa of their new home in the village, looking at the other children while they were wearing their shoes quickly. At that moment her new SOS mother Majeda came closer, smiled and whispered to them “Come quickly with me and I promise you that I will explain everything later in the evening”. Razan did not leave her brother’s hand, and with her second hand, she held her SOS mother and went out along with her new SOS siblings. They were walking very quickly when Razan noticed that there were many other children with their mother doing the same and going to the buses. After everyone took their place in the buses, Razan expected the driver would drive out of the village, but everyone left the bus and went back to their houses.
“This afternoon we were doing a training on evacuation, I want you to feel relaxed because this is a routine that we do usually, it will help us be ready and prepared for any incident that might happen in the village or in the surrounding area”, explained SOS mother Majeda to Razan and Iyad. ‘’In this house, you are all my lovely children. I will do my best to take care of you and keep you safe”, continued Majeda.
After two days, Razan was having her breakfast with her new family in the morning when her SOS mother asked everyone to wear their shoes quickly. This time, all the buses left the as the sound of clashes got louder and closer.
All the children and their SOS mothers had to be evacuated from the village because the shells were getting closer to the villages. Everyone moved to a safer place, where they stayed for almost one month until the security situation improved.
Despite all the difficulties that Razan lived during her first month at SOS Qudsaya village, she was reassured with the protection and care she was feeling with Majeda. She knew that her SOS mother would never leave her. Razan feels the compassion of her SOS mother; she found in her the warm protector whom makes her feel safe and strong. The continuous sounds of war to which children in SOS care were exposed demanded intensive care.
Two years have passed since Razan and her little brother joined SOS village in Qudsaya. During this time, they received an alternative family care, love and protection. They built strong relationships with their SOS siblings, in a home where every day experiences were shared, in good and bad times.
During these two years, Razan’s biological mother recognized that her husband is probably dead and that she will not see him again. In the beginning, the unknown fate of her husband was hard to accept. But with time she could heal her wounds and realized that the psychological instability she went through caused her family breakdown.
She visited SOS Children’s Villages main office in Damascus to express her desire to raise her children and explained that her financial situation prevented her from taking them back. SOS co-workers proposed to integrate her in the family strengthening programme that aims to support families and communities to help them build their capacities so that children are well cared for, and families stay together.
Today Razan and Iyad live with their mother in a small but lovely house. When they are in school, their mother goes to a vocational training institute where she gets tailoring and sewing trainings in order to learn a profession that will help her become financially independent in the near future.
“Razan and Iyad’s departure left a big void in my heart. I miss them a lot. But what comforts me is that I did my best to make them happy and keep them safe and that they are with their real mother now”, said SOS mother Majed. “
Razan is one of the 570 children who receive support through the family strengthening programme that was launched by SOS Children’s Villages in Syria in 2004 aiming to empower families to become independent and powerful enough to care and protect their children.
*The names of the children were changed to protect their privacy