News / Thoughts

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News / Thoughts

Syria: Working with children

March 20, 2017

The war in Syria is now 6 years old, and the conflict that started as a small popular uprising has devastated the entire country. The UN estimates that 5.8 million children are in need inside Syria, with up to 281,000 living under siege and 2.8 million trapped in hard to reach areas. Open Doors is working through partners on the ground to keep hope alive for these children as part of the Open Doors Hope for the Middle East campaign.

What are we doing to help?

As war tears apart families and ravages lives in Syria, children are receiving help at special Child Friendly Spaces supported by Open Doors. These spaces are designed to provide refuge and a safe place for children to receive trauma counselling and take part in art therapy and children’s activities.

These centres, funded by Open Doors supporters and run by local partner organisations, provide an oasis for children forced to grow up very prematurely because of the war and devastation around them. Many have been exposed to things that no child should ever witness.

These child friendly spaces are safe areas where children can develop and grow and have access to critical psychosocial support.

For millions of Syrian children their lives are unrecognisable from what they were before March 2011 when the conflict in the country began. Many children have been directly impacted by the violence, suffering from physical and psychological trauma and being forced to leave their homes. Children as young as seven-years-old are being recruited into the armed conflict, many suffer from increased levels of physical abuse at home, and young girls are at particular risk of sexual abuse, abduction, and exploitation.

One of these Child Friendly Spaces is located in an area close to the city of Homs that is home to many displaced Syrians. Some 320 children each week find a safe space here where they can develop and grow and have access to psychosocial support.

The Child Friendly Space has become unmissable for the children in Homs. But it has an even wider benefit. The Child Friendly Space engages members of the community, so it is also strengthening the ties between the Church and its surrounding community as they respond together to the needs of children.

Bring hope to the Middle East…

Open Doors has launched a global, seven-year campaign to mobilise Christians around the world to bring hope to the Middle East – and we need you and your church to be a part of it. Here are three things you can do:

Pray. Order our free one family guides and youth group session to help pray for the Middle East…
Give. Send a relief pack to help displaced families in Syria…
Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, asking for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, which will be presented to the UN Secretary General in December. If you’ve already signed it, share it with others too.

Pray now…

  • Pray for the children attending these child-friendly spaces. Ask that they would know God’s love, peace and protection despite the conflict
  • Pray these spaces would help children to deal with the trauma of seeing war first hand
  • Pray that these spaces would help Christians strengthen their reputations as people of peace and love with the rest of the community
  • Pray that a peaceful end to the conflict would come about quickly

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.