Healing Through Art, Fun and Education

Tuesday 22 December 2015

With four healthy children, Amina had a good life back in Syria before the conflict began in 2011. “The war started and I was pregnant with my daughter Hana, and because of the loud noises of bombings and the horrific situation we lived in, my daughter Hana was born prematurely at eight months old with ‘Brain Hypoxia’, a condition caused when the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen,” Amina said. One symptom Hana suffers from is muscle weakness in her legs. In Hana’s first few years, she received both treatment in Homs, as well as daily medication for her condition, which remained fairly stable. “When the road to Homs got blocked, I couldn’t take Hana anymore so her treatment was paused,” Amina said. Seeing how her daughter’s health deteriorated, Amina knew that it was time to leave. She and her husband took their six children and left Syria in the hope of continuing Hana’s treatment in Jordan.

 The family’s journey to Jordan wasn’t easy, they had to walk for 12 hours until they reached the Jordanian borders. Because of Hana’s weak legs, her mother had to carry her the entire time. Amina explains, “During the difficult journey to Jordan, what kept me going was the hope of seeing my children safe, and to get Hana the medical assistance she needs to be able to live a childhood where she can run, play and learn.”

 After arriving to Al Azraq camp for Syrian refugees, Amina and her family had to adapt to the new camp environment where the family had to live in a caravan. Upon arriving, Hana re-started her treatment in a near-by hospital and was provided with the necessary medicine. However, this only lasted for a short while as the treatment was no longer available and the medicine ran out of stock in the camp’s medical centre. While this affected Hana’s medical condition, it also affected her social behavior. Hana didn’t want to leave the caravan or play outside with the other children.

 “I learned about the kindergarten in the camp through my sister, and I thought taking Hana there would improve her wellbeing, but I wasn’t sure if they would accept her because of her health condition,” Amina said. The kindergarten was pleased to register her immediately. Hana’s father takes her to the kindergarten everyday and waits with her until she finishes, as they live about 45 minutes away from the kindergarten, which makes commuting difficult.

Save the Children established and runs a kindergarten in Al Azraq camp which provides early childhood education to children under the age of five. Per semester,Hana and 400 other children receive pyscho-social support through our Healing through Education and Art (HEART) programme where they learn to express their emotions rather than harmfully keeping them inside. The kindergarten also provides children with a sense of normalcy after their lives are disrupted by disasters.

 According to Mayssa, the principle of the kindergarten, “when Hana first joined she had been cut-off from her medical treatment for about six months which made it difficult for her to mingle with the other children in her class. After participating in the HEART programme, Hana became more confident in engaging with others and her situation has drastically improved.”