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Oxfam in Syria: "I miss playing with my friends… I miss my home"

2nd Dec 2015

Eleven year old Kareem and his family recently fled from Eastern Ghouta to Dahyet Qudsaya in Rural Damascus, Syria, looking for safety and shelter.

"I used to go to school every day and meet my beloved friends. I miss playing with my friends on the way back from school, I miss my home, my belongings and I miss watching cartoons after finishing my homework. I was the best soccer player among my friends and I miss that too" says Kareem, talking about life before the conflict displaced his family from their home.

Kareem and his family live in a shelter with over a thousand other people who have been displaced inside Syria. Life is tough and children like Kareem miss their friends and homes.

Oxfam has been working in Kareem's shelter, helping to reduce the risk of hygiene-related diseases through a campaign to promote good hygiene practices and the distribution of hygiene kits to all children living there.

Women in the shelter took part in discussion groups about the causes of diarrhoea and how to prevent it, including practical solutions on how to store food and keep their basic homes clean.

Children took part in the campaign in a number of ways, including through games, competitions,  singing, drawing and theatre sessions with their favourite cartoon characters.

The campaign was a real success embraced by children throughout the shelter. Kareem and his friends even wanted to take part in preparing for the campaign, so they helped by putting up posters on the walls all around the shelter. 

Kareem is still struggling to adjust to living in a shelter with so many other people and is trying to make new friends. Interactive group activities for children in the shelter give them something positive and engaging to focus on and help them meet new friends as well as keeping them safe and free from illness. 

"I will keep my soap bar in a plastic bag to carry it with me to the toilet, and I will use it until it is melted. My little brother doesn't know how to wash his hands and brush his teeth, now I will teach him." Says Kareem. 

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