“What a journey, yea?” This question pulled the eight-year-old Kareem back from his thoughts and gave Firas, one of SOS reunification strengthening project members (RSP), a genuine smile. Kareem’s journey was hard. First, he lost his mother during the war. Then, as the attacks intensified in Aleppo, he fled the city with his one-year older brother Badr*, and with it their father with whom their protection rights were not respected. When the siblings reached Damascus, they lost sight of each other. Suddenly, Kareem found himself lost alone in a city he does not know, with no money and no one to go to. He kept straying in the streets until the police found him. Kareem refused to tell the police anything, he was scared that they would give him back to his father. So the police decided to put Kareem in the custody of SOS Interim Care Centre in June 2017.
Kareem’s life took a completely different turn. At the beginning was silent all the time, he did not trust anyone, refused to answer questions and preferred to stay alone. Later, with the psychological support Kareem was getting at the centre, he started to open up to tell his story. From what Kareem said, Miss Zeina, the psychologist grabbed the information that he has an uncle living in Damascus and gave it to the RSP team.
“For us, it was a mission, we had to find Kareem uncle to know that we did everything we could to the child,” said Firas.
Few months later, the hard work of the RSP team came with a result, they found the uncle. That was good news for Kareem but the greater news was that Bader was living with their uncle. The reunification between the two brothers was eyes tearing, the uncle was very moved to finally find his nephew and he expressed his desire to care for Kareem, but his problem was that he could not afford the expenses of a second child in the family.
Believing that reunification was the most suitable care solution for Bader, the RSP team helped the uncle to open a grocery shop to support him financially. As for Kareem and his older brother the programme provided them with monthly allowance, registered them back in school and helped them with tuition, school expenses and medical insurance in addition to psychosocial support.
“Our program focuses mainly on reuniting children with their biological parents or extended families and keep supporting them if they need, because all children deserve to live with a loving family and grow to follow their dream, “said Mr. Samaan the RSP officer.
With that genuine smile still on his face, Kareem answered Firas: “Yea, what a journey, thank you for finding my uncle and my brother, thank you for helping me.”
Today Kareem is a third-grade student, very good at school, he and his brother live with the family of his uncle in an area near Damascus. Kareem is a child that SOS was able to give him a chance to catch up with his life again.
*The children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.