The Syria Trust for Development Initiative to Help under-five Displaced Children

In recent months, thousands of Syrian families who fled their homes in volatile suburbs and headed to cities to seek safety ended up staying either in schools, public parks or relative's houses.

796 shelters

As for the number of schools which have been occupied by the displaced families, according to a statement by Education Ministry, it is estimated at 796 all over Syria. However, there are no statistics about the families using public parks and relative's houses as a shelter.

In this context, some reports cited the decrease of schools being occupied by the displaced families in Syria by the beginning of the new school year (September 16) through moving most of them to other governmental buildings.

NGO's initiatives

The fact of sheltering displaced families in schools and parks has imposed on the Non-Governmental Organizations challenging initiatives in the field of relief and humanitarian aid as a real partner in the societal development process.  

The aid offered by these NGO's is not limited to food and medicine as it also includes recreational activities for children and adolescents in the schools.

Aid  partners

One of these NGO's that is lending a helping hand in this field is the Syria Trust for Development (STD) which is networking with governmental bodies and partners to provide all needed facilitation to work.

South region

Speaking to the Syria Times, the Trust's South Region's press official Miss. Areej Bawadekji, said: " a week before Ramadan month, we started our work in helping displaced families in 32 schools in Damascus.''

On individual basis, the Trust team has taken the first step through contacting municipalities' heads, Education Ministry, Damascus Governorate, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.

Local society                                                                                                                               

"The cooperation of these governmental bodies besides local community in each region plays prominent role in keeping on aid works in the schools supervised by the Trust," Miss. Bawadekji noted.

The government's serious support for the NGO's and local community refutes allegations of circulated reports that the Syrian displaced families in schools solely relying on help of local community and charity.  

Nevertheless, no one can deny that charity is the main source of financing causalities in all world crises.

The cooperation has been manifested in mechanism of the Trust team's work in the schools. Miss. Bawadekji clarified that some 20 volunteers are working in each school and they directly contact families in 16 schools in Damascus to define their needs and to make them feel safe.

"Kafo" initiative

This communication drew the attention of the Trust team to the priority of health initiative to help under-five children who are suffering from malnutrition.

"The (Kafo) initiative is based on a network including concerned bodies in field of health to offer services to the children, not only during their stay in the schools; but also after returning to their homes," Miss. Bawadekji added.

With this in mind, the initiative launched its first activity on September, 5, 2012, in cooperation with the UNICEF, in "Somaya alMakhzomeyeh" school where about 45 children were medically examined and provided with necessary medication.

"The first activity also included a training session for volunteers on diagnosing malnutrition, blood-pressure measuring, and reading data," Miss. Bawadekji said.

This initiative is just an example of the humanitarian aid being offered by the Trust in one field to alleviate the impact of crisis currently facing the Syrian people.

The Syria Trust for Development is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2001 to empower individuals and communities in Syria to fulfill their role in building their society and shaping their future.


Basma Qaddour




AAMAL : promotion the rights and dignity of the disabled

The Syrian Organization for the Disabled, better known as AAMAl, is a non-Governmental organization , which was established by the Syrian First Lady Ms. Asma Al-Assad in 2002.  It dedicates its efforts to improve level standars for people  with special needs by acting as a venue for change, pursuing an integrated approach, and networking with others to achieve the broadest possible  impact.

AAMAL  activities are mainly  concentrated  on integrating  the disabled into the Syrian society through  establishing and operating  specialized centers for rehabilitation of the disabled ,   ensuring  continued training to cadres assigned in this area , with special concentration  on  practical applications and urging authorities concerned to enact and implement  legislations guaranteeing rights of the disabled.

Other  activities are  launching awareness campaigns and dissemination of awareness on the disability and encouraging ways  enabling society integrating  the disabled, as well as  cooperating with local, regional and international organizations concerned to further  support the disability issue. AAMAL  is  responsible for the management of multiple Service Centers in Damascus.  It is also responsible for the day-to-day management of the three  Centers' treatment and services, activities and its professional staff, and maintaining  coordination of long-term rehabilitation processes of patients with birth defects, neurological disorders, brain injuries, and developmental disorders.  It is also  accountable to ensure  the drafting and then  implementation  of new policies and directives.

Families of the disabled, thanks to AAMAL, have the opportunity  to participate in various social activities in the framework of a scientific system which directly contributes to rehabilitating the disabled and opens the door for them to play an effective role in life. For instance,  disabled children who have hearing problems are admitted by a specialized committee.

AAMAL center  consists of several rooms isolated form noise, and the tables are in the shape of horseshoe to ensure a complete eye contact with all the students. The educational program adopted by the Center was put by the specialists of AAMAL based on epistemic and linguistic principles in line with the age of the children, who are divided into three age categories. 

Services  are rendered to the disabled children for one year, and after that a specialized committee decides their condition to assess whether they can join schools or not. The Center is equipped with the most advanced technologies and devices required for conducting tests and hearing checkups.

Syria, a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in 2008,  promotes the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. The convention demands that governments should  take measures to ensure that disabled people can live and move about independently by ensuring that roads and buildings provide disabled access to better their life and integration into their environment.

Based on the fact that many people with disabilities are poorly educated; and can't find a job, a  law is enforced in Syria to this end, stipulating that 4% of the country 's  labor force is for the disabled .

 But it's the difficulty of movement and the lack of an accessible educational system which prevents them from getting a proper education in the first place. But there's no use sitting and crying over the past. We have to take measurable steps towards a more accessible Syria."

Actually, the heavy burden confronting humanitarian  organizations like AAMAL is immense, including the lack of accurate statistics on the number of people with disabilities in Syria. To provide a more comprehensive picture in this regard,  a national  survey of the country's disabled community is underway , in order to evaluate needs of the disabled;  so as to tailor government policy to this end  . Such a survey would provide ''numbers and kinds of disabilities , the Syrians suffer from and where these disabilities  are located,"

It is an established fact that relatives- intermarriage, irregular vaccinations for children, poor health care provided for pregnant woman and mothers , mal-nutrition  and the high accidents rates, are but among other factors that have made of Syria  a country of considerably big generation of disabled.

Thanks to the efforts of National Council for Disabilities Affairs (NCDA), several disabled Syrians  have  joined  the council which is staffed by representatives from six Syrian ministries and several NGOs, besides  a number of experts and people with disabilities. It has been lobbying for the rights of the disabled since 2004.

A key part of  the Syrian  government  strategy is to improve the safety of homes and workplaces and to reduce the number of accidents which can result in mobility impairment, and thereby contribute to alleviating disability .

Tomader Fateh




The social Effect of Terrorists' Attacks on Children

Syria is facing a global war, and acts of terrorism, which have been perpetrated by armed terrorist groups for a year and a half in many places in our beautiful country. Terrorism scares everyone because no one knows when or where it will take place.

Representing a high  percent of the Syrian society and being the most vulnerable group , children have been critically affected.

Emotional and physical responses:

Emotional responses vary in nature and severity from child to another, but there are some similarities in how children (and even adults) feel when their lives, houses, or when those whom they love are affected by terrorist attacks:

. Fear: it is may be the predominant reaction .

. Loss of control: they may refuse to cooperate, or go to school or leave their toys, and their parents.

. Anger: it is a common reaction, children may direct anger toward classmate, parents, or neighbors, because they are not able to express their anger against terrorism.

. Loss of stability: children can feel insecure when their usual schedules and activities are disrupted, or if they are not in their houses, these things increase their level of stress and need for reassurance.

. Isolation : the children who have a father in the Army, or who are staying with relatives ,they experience the loss of familiarity with the place or surroundings

. Confusion: this can occur when the dangers take place for a long time, they begin to ask:  “when the violence will stop? When are we going back to our home? Etc...” Some children do not understand the difference between violence as entertainment , and the real events taking place in their country, that is because of media and cartoon superheroes, so they have difficulty separating reality from fancy .

These emotions or feelings will lead the child sometime to losing sleep, not eating, crying, or increasing level of violence, and worrying too much as to even get sick.

Pre-school children:

The preschool children fear separation more than death, they are not really interested in the details of the world’s  politics, nor will they demand to know the details of the death toll or devastation. They are most concerned about whether their families will be well and stay together, in general they do not understand the end of death,they believe that death is a temporary condition. They worry more about being separated from their parents than about dying.

The following are some suggestions, when talking with your child about the recent terrorist attacks by the foreign-backed armed terrorist groups :

. Reassure your child that he or she is safe ,and our military soldiers are very brave to defend us.

. Limit the number of details given to your child to the simplest explanations.

. Be honest without sharing all your worries or fears.

.Limit your child’s exposure to news reports and discussions of the vast consequences of this crisis.

. Continue routines that the child is familiar with, and avoid unexpected separation, even if you are not in your house.

. Ask your child if he or she has any worries.

. Spend extra time with your child in useful activities.

School age children:

School age children will ask many questions, but they may misunderstand the information they are given, so it is extremely important for parents and teachers to check with children regarding their understanding of things, they may incorrectly understand the things that happen around them, or they may fear their school is likely to be attacked .Thus, children in this age, range require a great deal of explanation, and a limited amount of information.

Here are some suggestions when talking with school age children :

. Answer your child’s question without providing all the details.

. Check your child’s understanding of the situation after discussions, since school age children may misinterpret information resulting in panic or fear.

. Encourage your child to talk about his or her worries, and unpleasant feelings as well as altruistic thoughts.

. Invite participation of your child in altruistic actions such as collecting money, sending clothes, toys or other items to families in need.

.Expect some repetition in the discussion about terrorists or terrorist attacks.

. It is important to limit exposure to media coverage of violence.

Children who have lost their parents or family:

These children have suffered a lot, they may have many psychological disorders, aggressive behavior, many nightmares, dreams and loss of hope. For those children there must be many psychosocial programs as to limit the effects on children, prevent further harmful events, and strengthen their coping mechanisms. They must have comprehensive mental health services, the Syrian charity  society hand by hand must help them.

Actually, terrorism, and the stress associated with terror alerts, can have devastating effects on children and families. Teachers and parents can help by teaching their children how to be secure and conscious.

Botheina Alnounou

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Displaced Syrian family: Our House Ransacked, Stolen and Burnt by Armed Terrorist Groups

Just because they support the security and stability of their homeland, refuse to participate in strikes,  refuse to join the conspiracy against their country, many Syrian families were executed and many others were displaced from their homes by armed terrorist groups who have been terrorizing the Syrian people for more than a year and a half in different parts of the Syria.

"We left our home in "al-Tadamun" district three months ago fearing daily threats by armed groups calling themselves "Free Army". They used to terrorize the peaceful people of the district urging them to join what they called "revolution" or be slaughtered," Samiha, a 39 years old housewife told the Syria Times.

The armed groups have ransacked houses, stole everything possible, kidnapped and brutally killed innocent people simply  because they support their President, she added.

Samiha, who is now staying at her parents' house with her husband and her three kids, said "a week after our departure, our neighbor Abou Khaled, a good man fromDaraa, phoned my husband telling him that some of the armed groups’ members had occupied our home and stayed in it. I was terribly shocked, but at the same time I thanked God that my family was safe.”
"A week ago and after the Syrian army forces had entered the district to clean it from terrorists, we had the opportunity to go home. There was the horrible scene, the house was stolen, completely sabotaged and burnt by the armed terrorist groups before they fled the area. That moment I broke into tears as it was a disaster to my family, because, as you know, it is difficult within the current circumstances to buy a new house." 

 Samiha's husband, Amjad, 45, works as chef in one of Damascus big restaurants and has heart problems, said: "the house is all what I have. It is a big loss. I hired an apartment at 8.000 (SYP) which is too much for my income. Besides, my work has been badly affected by the country's events and I'm struggling now to keep my job."     

Samiha described herself as “lucky”, because she found a place to stay in, but felt so sad for other displaced families who lost their homes and couldn't find a shelter except in schools or mosques and for the families who lost their loved ones. 

When asked whether the crisis has affected her morals, she answered: "On the contrary,  the crisis has deepened our love to our country and strengthened our adherence to preserving its unity and to foil the conspiracy against Syria."

"I still feel optimistic, it is true that we lost our house but we are still alive and can start again." Samiha said.

Samiha’s story is only a simple example, many families were forced to leave their homes after their areas were ransacked by terrorists. Some rented small apartments or even rooms, and others simply just don’t have enough cash to rent a good house, and they only depend on schools, gardens, and on aid offered by governmental, non government organizations and local charities.

Hamda Mustafa




The ideal way to bring your children up

Family and its foundation is the manner of life for immortality. Children are the offspring of the family. Children are the continuity of man in life. How miserable life is for a married couple without children! Life for them is unbearable and sorrow fills their hearts. They will die without leaving any sign in the world.

Children are the adornment of the world. They represent life and hope. To create an ideal young generation, parents have a duty towards this real gift. They should know how to bring them up well. Parents should teach their children values such as generosity, modesty, courage, respect, truthfulness, sacrifice and  love for their homeland and for people.

All children should be brought up showing respect for their parents, neighbors and teachers. They should be taught how to be modest when they achieve success or fame and not show off. They should know how to be courageous in the face of danger and how to depend upon themselves. They should be taught how to be faithful, truthful and brave to tell the truth. Children should be taught how to be kind and friendly to their relatives and friends.

It is important to make our children see when we give money particularly to the needy, when we offer help or kindness to others. Parents are the real mirror for their children. Children usually follow their parents' suit. Good parents create good and fair children. You can't ask your child to be good if you behave in a wrong way. Ideal parents can educate their children perfectly.

It is not good to be too lenient all the time with our children. We should be strict to prevent them of behaving badly. To punish or deprive children of pleasant things sometimes yields positive results. Coquetry and lenience spoil their life and make children selfish and dependent.

Human instinct rejects dictatorship because it leads to suppression and humiliation. Harsh treatment also destroys the character and deprives children of their humanity. Surely, this will affect negatively on the course of their life.

We shouldn’t forget that motivation is a very important factor in the life of our children. They need more encouragement and praise. When they do something good, we should be glad and show them our happiness to urge and motivate them to do more good deeds.

The language of polite dialogue is very significant between children and their families. This kind of sublime behavior generates warm and close relation and creates mutual confidence among the members of the family.

In fact, bringing up children is a very difficult matter particularly at present time. We should pay more attention to their behaviors and correct what is wrong. The society and the environment we live in have great effect on them. We should be aware of the difficulties they face .It is very important to listen to them and solve their problems. It is true that we (parents) provide money, food and shelter, but what is more is to be close friends. It is necessary to understand them and respect their feelings.

It is very important to ensure an atmosphere of security and tranquility to our children to live a happy and stable life. It is wise to teach them how to lead a life of virtue. By doing so we will establish a strong and fortified generation that will be able to create a virtuous society.


Sharif al Khatib




The power of Passion Change

We talk a lot about the power of military , economic, political and abut other powers of change that control life, affecting people and society alike.

However, we rarely talk about the power of passion’s change which plays critical role in the life of people more than- as I think- all previous powers. If passion is sincere and real, it will be stronger than money, arms and politics in the history of human beings.

To illustrate, I will narrate a story of a man and a woman which strongly indicates that the power of passion’s change could improve the conditions of a man or a woman. The hero of our story is a young and successful physician. During his career he fell in love with a girl, and got married to her and had a child. Afterwards, the young physician was obliged to leave the country looking for a hi-tech medical center that could deal with his sudden grave sickness. During his long stay abroad, his wife asked him to divorce her; he was shocked.

After recovery, he relentlessly tried to reunite with her, but she refused as she told him that she was in love with another person.  Hence, he understood her behavior wishing her a good life. He said to himself that his wife was sincere and didn't want to cheat him, so he accepted this situation.

The power of love soon came when he fell in love with another woman of a bad reputation. Challenging his family, he married her confirming that love is bigger than anything else.

Here the power and amazing ability of love became clear through the ability of the physician to endure all of the gossip about his marriage of the second woman, as well as through  the new look and good image of his second wife as a civilized educated person, who, because of real love, did  succeed to lead her public life positively.

So, we can say that the sincere and honest love has the power to change a person from a devil, if to say,  to an angel!

Raghda  Sawas