30 October 2017

New SOS Children’s Village opens in Damascus

The new SOS Children’s Village offers ‘a loving home for children who need it the most’

Photographer: Fares Haj Ebrahim / SOS Children’s Villages Syria


SOS Syria has opened a new SOS Children’s Village in Damascus to address the need for additional alternative care for children. With space for 80 children in 10 apartment homes, the second SOS Children’s Village in the Syrian capital will become home for many children who have lost parental care or are waiting to re-join their biological families.
 
In the following interview, Ghufran Awera, Director of the new SOS Children’s Village, explains the need for the new Children’s Village in the conflict-torn country and how it will help relieve overcrowding at other SOS homes and programmes.
 
The new SOS Children’s Village, located in southwest Damascus, was inaugurated in October and the first families have already started to move in. The building was acquired in 2016 and renovated.

What are the main reasons for opening a new SOS Children’s Village for children in Damascus?

The first SOS Children’s Village opened in Damascus more than 30 years ago. The existing facilities no longer have the capacity. This is mainly due to the fact that in 2012, SOS families living in the SOS Children’s Village in Aleppo had to be evacuated to Damascus because of the escalation of tension and insecurity.
 
A second reason is that we had to find a solution for children who were not reunified with their biological families and who have been living  in SOS Children’s Villages interim care centres. Our Children’s Village will provide long-term care in a family environment for these children. 
 
An SOS co-workers with the children playing on the premises of the new SOS Children's Village.


Is the new SOS Children’s Village in a safe area?

Our new Children’s Village is located in southwest Damascus, about 16 kilometres away from the city centre, and close to the border with Lebanon. The district is considered one of the safest areas in Syria.
 
We work hard every day to protect children in our care and to secure their needs, whether they are living in the SOS Children’s Village or in other homes. The children's safety is a top priority.
 
We have emergency action plans, test them to make sure that everything is under control, and take every precaution. The evacuation of the SOS Children’s Village Aleppo is an example. We safely transferred the SOS families to Damascus in September 2012 because of deteriorating security in Aleppo. In September 2016 we transferred the children at the SOS Children’s Village in Damascus to safe areas because of military clashes in the vicinity. It was the right decision to take at that particular time, as we discovered later when several shells fell in the compound after we left.
 
Children playing in the new SOS Children's Village in Damascus. Photo: Fares Haj Ebrahim/SOS Children’s Villages Syria


What is the capacity of the new SOS Children’s Village in Damascus?

We have ten apartments and each home is large enough for eight children and an SOS mother. We are very happy to be able to provide long-term care for more children, which was not possible before due to the lack of space at the other SOS Children’s Village.

Where will the children attend school?

The new Children’s Village is in an excellent location. There are many facilities nearby where they can play safely, make new friends, and build good family relations with other children. There are three schools and two kindergartens within one kilometre of the SOS families’ homes. Children who came from the SOS Interim Care Centres are already attending these schools as the new SOS Children’s Village is close to these centres. 
 
The SOS Children's Village in Damascus can offer a safe and comfortable home for 80 children. Photo: Fares Haj Ebrahim/SOS Children’s Villages Syria


What does the new SOS Children’s Village mean to SOS children and families?

An SOS Children’s Village is a place where children can have a good life. It is a place they can call home. The children are excited about living in a family and in a new home. I am happy we can provide a loving home for children who need it the most, and I really wish all children who have lost parental care could have such a home.
 

Background

SOS Children’s Villages opened its first village in Damascus in 1981, and the second SOS Children’s Village in Damascus was inaugurated in October 2017 with space for 80 children. The SOS Children’s Village in Aleppo, which opened in 1998, was evacuated in 2012 and all the children were transferred to Damascus.
 
SOS Children’s Villages Syria provides child friendly spaces, supports education for children, offers humanitarian relief to vulnerable families, and cares for children who have lost their parents or are waiting to re-join their families. Our programmes are located in Damascus, Aleppo, and Tartous. 


More about our work in Syria

More about how we have supported children and families affected by the conflict in Syria