September 27 2012

Children from Aleppo evacuated to Damascus

27/09/2012 - Two days ago, after nearly two months of constant fear due to heavy fighting, lack of fuel, regular blackouts and restricted moving, the children from SOS Children's Village Aleppo were evacuated to the SOS Children's Village in Qodsaya on the outskirts of Damascus.

Since Qodsaya is currently considered safer, 61 children together with their ten SOS mothers now share the houses with the SOS families in Syria's capital city. Thirteen youth girls and seven youth boys, accompanied by two youth care co-workers, also came to Damascus and are accommodated in the village respectively in the youth boys' house in Sahnaya.

"The village is empty now. It is really sad, since more than 17 years it was never empty and now it feels as there is no life", said the assistant of the village director who is currently staying in Aleppo. The administration staff and the social worker also did not move to Damascus but try to go to work as regular as possible in order to care for urgent issues.

"It took us nine hours to reach Damascus because of the many checkpoints from both the opposition and the Syrian army. And we had to make big detour to avoid the hot areas especially between Aleppo and Homs. We spent about two hours and a half for a distance of 48 km before reaching the main highway between Homs and Damascus", said Mr Gassan Al-Shami, the director of the SOS Children's Village in Aleppo.

"It is not going for a summer camp!"

Gassan Al-Shami about the children's and mothers' feelings: "First of all, it was very difficult for the mothers to prepare the children and pack their stuff. It is not just going for a summer camp for ten days! The mothers and youths are not happy at all about the relocation. They want to stay in their village since it is their home."

Photo: Rasha Muhrez
Children from Aleppo and Damascus want and need to have some normalcy in the midst of uncertainty - Photo: Rasha Muhrez
The children of Aleppo are now joining their brothers and sisters in Damascus, go to school together and try to get along with the difficult situation. Qodsaya is now the temporary home of some 125 children. The SOS families from Qodsaya already had to experience the same very recently - they only returned to their homes at the end of August after they had been staying some weeks at the Regional Office of SOS Children's Villages in Damascus.

Co-workers do their best to comfort the children

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, the SOS families in Aleppo have not been directly affected for a long time. This has dramatically changed now. According to Rasha Muhrez from the SOS Regional Office in Damascus, the loving family atmosphere in the village could always compensate for the stress and fear. The village director did his best to make sure all supplies are available and that children and mothers do not suffer from shortages of any kind. "Village co-workers were so supportive and did everything they could to cope with the situation and to continue their work for the children. We are all praying that peace will come back soon and that the children from Aleppo can return back home", said Rasha Muhrez.