Save the Children and UNHCR Partner to Deliver 'Toys for Smiles' in Za'atari camp

Tuesday 24 December 2013

On Monday December 22, 2013 excitement and smiles filled all three of Save the Children’s kindergartens in Za’atari camp, as children received hundreds of toys donated to them by children in the United Kingdom.

For the past few months, children in the UK have been creating, donating and collecting toys for the initiative ‘Toys for Smiles’ to be sent to Syrian refugee children in Za’atari camp.

The UK initiative ‘Toys for Smiles’, was made possible through the support of the Pitt Rivers Museum and the UK Scouts and Guides Fellowship to UNHCR, were the toys travelled more than 2,300 miles to their final destination – a journey made possible by the UK branch of Aviation Without Borders and UNHCR.

The initiative took off in October when children gathered at toy workshops in the UK to either create or donate the toys they want to share with the children of Syria.

As the children hoped, their generosity was met with gratitude and smiles from distressed children who have lost their homes, friends, and relatives.

For Syrian refugee children this was as a gesture of solidarity and compassion.

"The children in England sent these toys to us because they know we have nothing of our own," said Waed who received a small pink doll house. Her friend Mohamed, another five year-old, hugging a clockwork police car added, "I want to tell the kids who sent all this stuff that we didn't have toys but now we have more than we ever could have imagined."

Save the Children and UNHCR partnered together to distribute nearly half a ton of toys to children in all three kindergartens, 17 child friendly spaces and two multi-activity centres in Za’atri refugee camp. The children were thrilled to benefit from the ‘Toys for Smiles’ initiative. 

"Today we had a surprise. We were told that kids from Britain had sent us toys. I am really amazed. I got Play-doh and I think I can do a lot with it. Thank you, you have made us very happy today," said Doa'a who fled with her family from Dera'a.

"These children don't have any toys. They have fled their homes and had to leave their cherished and loved toys and games behind in what was a safe and protected place for them. That is why they are so excited to be able to take them home with them to keep,” said Safia Abu Shaneen a teacher at Save the Children’s Sunshine Kindergarten, “there is a big positive psychological impact for them because of this act. We explained to the children who had sent the toys and games and they were so happy to hear that people cared enough about them to send them these gifts."

Za’atari refugee camp is currently home to more than 120,000 Syrian refugees and today it is the fifth largest settlement in Jordan. So far the Syrian conflict has forced more than 2.3 million Syrians to flee their country. More than half of them are children who are now growing up in fractured families, missing out on education and serving as their household's primary breadwinner.