As the number of Syrians forced to flee the country's civil war continues to rapidly grow, one number stays the same — over half of them are children.
There are now one million Syrian refugee children. And every day, thousands more are ripped from their homes and schools, left with painful memories of violence and confusion over what they've lost.
Mercy Corps has been focused on protecting these young refugees since the start of the crisis. We've created safe spaces and developed constructive activities where they can heal from trauma, build friendships and develop critical life skills. We are helping meet their families' basic needs, while continually finding new ways to ensure their emotional health and development are not forgotten.
Because of you, Fadi Kaheel, 11, along with other Syrian refugee children in the neighboring country of Lebanon, participated in a recent photography workshop, part of our Moving Forward program there.
The goal is to help young Syrian refugees — most of whom feel scared and isolated — integrate into their new community and develop self-esteem, teamwork and coping skills by participating with Lebanese kids in sports, support groups, and creative projects like theater, filmmaking and photojournalism.
During the photography workshops in particular, the youth learn not only the basics of capturing an image, but how to take an active role in their new lives in Lebanon. Through learning, engaging with their peers and documenting their surroundings, the children learn that each new day can be meaningful even as they wait to return to their lives in Syria.
Fadi heard about Mercy Corps’ Moving Forward photography workshop from his aunt and sister. “I was so excited because I was going to learn something new,” he says. For Fadi, the photography workshop also meant making new friends and gaining a deeper understanding of his host community in Lebanon.
Fadi originally fought with the Lebanese kids in his class because they didn’t understand each other. His instructor taught him how to be calm and better handle the conflict, and by the end of the workshop they had all become friends.
By connecting with others he learned more about Lebanon and started to feel like part of the community. “Sometimes we need to look at different communities and see them and experience them,” says Fadi. Now, with a better understanding of his host community, he is happier in his new home.
Now that he has completed the workshop, Fadi wants to photograph his family events. And he might teach other kids what he has learned. “I think it would be a good thing to give my knowledge to younger people,” he says.
Thank you for joining Mercy Corps to create safe spaces for young refugees like Fadi and for providing the support and protection they need to emerge from crisis and find hope for the future. Together, we can continue to turn the crises families confront into opportunities to thrive.
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