More than 150 children who live at the SOS Children’s Village in Damascus are back at home nearly a month after they were evacuated as a precaution against intensified shelling.
The 156 children, along with 26 mothers and aunts, were safely evacuated from the village to other locations on 27 September. Several shells hit the SOS compound after the families had left, causing no injuries and little damage.
“When SOS mothers told the children that they would go back to the village, they were overjoyed”, said Rani Rahmo, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in Syria. “They started singing, jumping and chasing one another. Little kids who didn’t understand what was happening started to copy their siblings' reaction by clapping and laughing.”
SOS mothers have started arranging breakfasts in the village garden to help the children understand that the situation is safe. A psychologist is also working with the children, Mr Rahmo said.
The families began returning suburban Damascus village on Friday, 21 October.
The children welcomed their move home but also expressed caution.
“I felt sorry for my SOS mom”, one 13-year-old girl said of the evacuation. “I knew that she was very uncomfortable because we were out of our home. She was trying to provide us with everything but it was very hard for her.”
One 10-year-old boy said, “I always said that nothing scares me. But my feelings changed after what happened in the village, and I really don’t want any more action in my life. I want stability and peace.”
The decision to return to the village followed a security assessment, Mr Rahmo explained, adding that "the situation is safe at the moment.”