Saber*: Back to School

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War creates tragic events that are beyond our imagination, like the story of the14-year-old Saber. The tale began 18 months ago near Aleppo, when Saber was walking around with his families’ herd of sheep in their house farm. Saber’s father was in Damascus to get fodder for the sheep. It was that herd that sustained the family’s income. “It was the most disastrous day in my life. I called on my brother, Sami, to help me with the herd. If only I forced him to get out of that room”, Sami chocked up, and continued. Saber’s four siblings were gathering round the dining table waiting for their mother to fetch them water and bread from the kitchen. A sudden deep roar was heard that the sheep shattered at once. Saber stared at the house trying to realize what just happened but one moment later his pregnant mother came out running and screaming: “my children died, please God no” In the good old days, the six siblings used to hold hands and walk down the pastoral valley to reach their school. They used to sing together their favorite cartoon’s song all the way, while their mother watched them from the little window and prayed for them in secret until they disappeared from her sigh. Due to the family tremendous calamity, Saber’s pregnant mother left Aleppo and went away immediately with him and his brothers to Damascus. It was impossible for the family to stay in the place that is full with their deceased children’s memories. In Damascus they had to live in Jaraman city in a room with no windows. What made things harder was that Saber’s mother’s delivery was due in about six months, for that, Saber had to drop school and work as a delivery boy in a near supermarket. His father got nothing to do other than porterage, which made the family very little income that is not even sufficient for their daily bread. Therefore, Saber felt the need to work and help them. “It badly affected me to work while I could be in a school. I do not even have friends anymore because I work 12 hours per day. Some customers would make me go up to ninth floor to bring them a packet of chewing gums.” young Saber stated. During their work in Jaramana city, SOS Children’s Villages anti-child labour team noticed Saber during his working hours. After the assessment of the family’s situation, the team offered to provide the needed help if Saber would want to go back to school. At that moment, Saber was so happy that he could not describe his feelings and started crying. Upon these grounds, SOS Children’s Villages coordinated with the school’s management and teacher to follow up with them and check if he needs any remedial classes. “Saber is a very bright student. He has a sharp quick mind and is passionate about studying”, one of his teachers assured. “SOS supported Saber's family with monthly allowances for each child, school uniforms and stationary, renting fees, and heating allowances. All this is to ensure the children’s comfort, and hence their performance at school. Medical treatment was also provided with all required medicines for all the children. Moreover, to help Saber overcome his trauma due to the tragic loss of his siblings, SOS Children’s Villages Syria provided him with psychosocial support activities. Saber and his family have been enrolled in SOS anti-child labour project for almost a year now. “When SOS Children’s Villages helped Saber and my other children, I felt that a deep crack in my heart is being partly healed.” Stated Saber’s mother. So far, SOS helped 184 families enroll their children back in school to keep a fundamental right that all children should have. *The child’s name was changed to protect his privacy.