Proposed Syrian Refugee Children’s Project

A Children’s Learning Center

Knowing that children are especially affected by refugee experiences, Disaster Training International and Salaam Cultural Museum have teamed up together to work on this project and we anticipate sending a team of 3 to 5 members to Jordan to assess how this nonprofit organization can give assistance to Syrian children in the refugee camps. Studies show that traumatic experiences such as war and violence can affect a child’s physical and mental health for the rest of their lives – and, in fact, can shorten their lives by as much as 20 years http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/oct/06/traumatic-childhood-takes-20-years-life-expectancy/. Other findings indicate, however, that children can recover and lead long productive lives if given assistance when they are young (“The Real Crisis of Katrina”, Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD). After reviewing the facts on the ground and on return to the US the assessment team will submit recommendations as to what assistance that agency might provide. Depending on findings in Jordan one possible way to help children heal is to develop a Learning Center as described below.

 

The Children’s Learning Center would serve Syrian refugee children in Jordan through focused learning combined with psychosocial support and skill development. Depending on space, resources and trained personnel this project will serve children pre-school through age fifteen (15).

 

The program at the Center will consist of two (2) parts. One component will be a mental health unit where counselors work  with children around issues that come from experiencing a traumatic event (or many events), such as being a refugee. The second component will concentrate on learning where trained teachers will work with children on focused academic skill development in a learning setting. This section will be organized to use the strategies and techniques advocated in the guide for schools, Children of Disaster, The Role of Schools after Disaster. Whereas the guide will be used for training teachers and other staff, the implementation of the learning section at the Center will be designed to have needed structure but also include more flexibility than one frequently thinks of as “school”.

 

Children, who the mental health team have worked with, or are currently working with, will have the highest priority of attending the learning section of the Center. After those children, others who have special kinds of needs resulting from refugee experiences will be served. The mental health counselors and teachers will meet regularly to talk about what they are finding and how each can support the children through their different disciplines.

 
Because of the Center’s integrated approach to children’s healing, teachers will be an integral part of the recovery process. Even when there might be reluctance on the part of some families to use the mental health services teachers will be able to plan various strategies to help children focus on academics as well as psychosocial support.

 
Strategies for academic skill development will be focused on lessons that help children become less fearful, know that life is not completely out of control, regain feelings of personal competence, reestablish personal relationships, develop empathy for others – all of which frequently become damaged when experiencing a traumatic event. This will be accomplished through the study of such topics as science, functional numeracy, history, geography, functional literacy, the arts – subjects that are internationally recognized as important areas of study for children affected by emergencies. Instruction of academic learning will be integrated with psychosocial skill development, such as age-appropriate behaviors, cultural identity and heritage, conflict resolution, tolerance, creativity, and civic responsibility. For pre-school children emphasis will be on keeping them safe and working on pre-academic learning through play. The Center will actively involve mothers in the well-being, care and learning about their children, knowing that children are best served if parents are part of their growth and development.

The Children’s Learning Center – focused learning combined with psychosocial support.

We are asking for your assistance to get this project off the groun.  The first part that we are dealing with is purchasing of school kits and hygiene kits for the women.  These will be delivered when we are their in the country.

We will be assesing the needs of the people in the camps and let you know what their immediate needs are.We do know that their are a number of NGO’s working their, but the need is so strong that everything will help we are talking about close to a hald million refugees right now in Jordan and not even the refugees in Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.  More and more refugees are still coming into the country.  So please help with whatever you can.  Read more on the blog of the situation inside of Syria and send us messages if you want to know more.  

 

Rita Zawaideh

Beryl Cheal, MEd, MA

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