Reclaiming Childhood in Northeast Syria

Play, art, and new friends help children adjust to life in displacement camps.

Since coming to a displacement camp in Northeast Syria two years ago, 5-year-old Amenah had been warned about the dangers of wandering too far from the tent she shared with her mother and grandmother.

Amenah’s mother was unsure of the situation when they arrived and did her best to keep the toddler safe. But the young girl became so cautious that she was frightened to even leave the tent. Instead of playing with other children, her grandmother and pet rabbits became Amenah’s only companions.

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Amenah spending time with her Rabbits outside her tent.

Fear and isolation left Amenah withdrawn, and her mother realized she needed to help her daughter learn to be a child again—to feel the joy she had known before war and displacement upended their lives.

Amenah’s mother met with Blumont’s team at the camp to find ways to help the child overcome her fears. When the team was introduced to Amenah, they gave her a stuffed bunny—her favorite animal—to help her feel safe and begin to rebuild trust in other people.

The team helped enroll Amenah in a kindergarten class where she could connect with other children. After noticing that every inch of the family’s tent was covered in Amenah’s drawings and paintings, they also encouraged her to participate in art activities held at the community center.

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Amenah joins an art activity at the camp’s Community Center.
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Amenah enjoys drawing her rabbits, her family, and her vision of a happy home.

As she started attending school and activities supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Amenah’s family quickly saw a difference. She smiled again and talked about her new friends—even naming her pet rabbits after some of the children she met at school. She loves going to the community center and tells the staff she loves them whenever she visits.

Displacement takes so much from people, but Amenah’s family is grateful that she has found the joy in childhood once again.

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