17 Nov 2022
  • Enver Muhammed

Every child has the right to a childhood, whatever their living conditions may be. It’s very simple.  

However, it’s not that simple to build a childhood full of fun, joy and hope for Fatima, Ibrahim and more than other 41,000 children residing in 25 informal sites. 

Fatima was barely eight when she and her family left their home in a village in the south of Idlib province, where she spent all her childhood, went to school, made friends, and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. 

Carrying her dreams and a backpack full of her favorite toys on her shoulders, she arrived in one of the IOM-supported camps for internally displaced persons in northwest Syria -- her new home for an unknown period. 

The living conditions in a camp are challenging. On top of that, Fatima’s family relies on humanitarian assistance that, to a certain extent, alleviates this situation and helps them make their daily routine smoother. However, despite the many challenges of life in a camp, Fatima doesn’t lose her enthusiasm to learn new skills and find something that gives her pleasure. 

She is fond of knitting and sewing: now she is finishing a grey elephant toy. She took up a new hobby after she tried knitting and sewing workshops organized with the support of IOM. She knits or sews something everyday – luckily, she has all the needed materials thanks to IOM-supported interventions.  

Fatima took part in a business fair and tried to sell her toys and clothes to support her family. In the future, Fatima hopes to grow her small business and open her own workshop where she will teach others the art of knitting and sewing.  

“Life in a camp is boring, so I decided to learn sewing and knitting. Those are good skills to have, and it’s also entertaining. I dream of improving my knitting skills and opening my own workshop in the future.” 

Perhaps, one day, Fatima will also fulfill her biggest dream to be a pediatrician.  

In the same challenging circumstances, in another camp not far from where Fatima resides, lives ten-year-old Ibrahim with his big family. 

Since birth, Ibrahim has been suffering from hearing and cognitive impairment. Unfortunately, Ibrahim’s condition has worsened due to the bombing and stress caused by displacement, and the lack of proper treatment, which is unaffordably expensive for his family. Nevertheless, despite financial constraints and other challenges, Ibrahim’s parents do their best to give their son the best life possible in the circumstances they live in.  

“I want to be a teacher because I love my school and my books – my only friends that can deal with my impairment” 

The savior for them was recreational activities organized for children in the camp with the support of IOM. It turned out that Ibrahim is so good at making objects with building blocks that he even took part in a special tournament among children where he ranked high. This is because he has a high ability to focus and build shapes and objects very quickly. 

With the new hobby and joy that playing with building blocks brings Ibrahim, he hopes to receive treatment that will help to recover, go to school and play with his friends.  

IOM conducts recreational activities for children through its partners to foster community engagement and social cohesion in the 25 IDP sites in northwest Syria. The recreational activities help children cope with suffering and challenges and reduce aggressive or harmful behavior toward others. As of now, 1635 children benefitted from the IOM-supported recreational activities since August 2022. 

The recreational activities for children are generously supported by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) as part of SMS interventions.