Books bringing hope to children in Syria
Fatmeh* lives in Idlib, Syria and has been a school teacher there for the past six years. Since the war began in 2011, one million displaced Syrians have flooded into Idlib Province, the last major opposition-controlled area. Civilians there are living under the constant threat of bombing, shelling and fighting between different armed groups.
Here Fatmeh tells us about life for the children of Idlib and how, despite everything, inspiring items like books can help children have hope for the future.
Our country has been at war for seven years now. Every day I see how it affects our country’s children.
The war has instilled fear in our children. Many bombs were dropped here and now every time the children hear a plane overhead, they are scared. When a plane is flying above us we bring the children into the basement and we sing loudly together. It helps them overcome their fear.
A lot of families are not sending their children to school because they need them to work to survive. They come one day and then miss a few other days. So they aren’t fully involved in their education because they don’t know if they will come back to school.
When we were children, we used to dream – I knew I wanted to be a teacher. But now our children don’t have hope for the future because they don’t know what will happen tomorrow. They are vulnerable and at risk of being recruited by armed groups.
Since the conflict started, education has become more creative. We’ve learnt to use materials which we find around us, like leaves and discarded cardboard, to keep lessons interesting. But we have less than 100 books for nearly 700 children. Even if we had the funds, we wouldn’t be able to buy books as there are no bookshops.
So I was very happy when I heard that Book Aid International is sending us new books for our library.
Books are important in a warzone because they take our minds away from what we are living in; they help us dream and if they are funny, they make us happy.
These books have the power to change our children’s lives because, through reading, they will learn new skills and become more creative. The books will give hope once more to the children.
We are very much looking forward to the books arriving as they will make a big difference. As Al Mutanabbi, an Arab poet, says “The best friend is your book”.
*Fatmeh’s name has been changed for security reasons.