Turning Scars Into Smiles

Save the Children is helping thousands of children like Amira to access education, to learn how to communicate about their experiences and vitally to learn how to be children again.
Amira, 10, has benefitted from Save the Children’s Child Friendly Spaces in Za’atari camp for one year.

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While escaping the violence at her home in Syria, 10-year-old Amira was hit by shrapnel from a nearby explosion. She incurred severe burns all over her body, including her face. She could not receive proper care due to the deteriorating condition of hospitals in Syria. Her family managed to cross the border and reach the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan one year ago.

The burn marks on her little body and face were much more apparent when she arrived in the camp. Though she received immediate treatment by healthcare providers at Za’atri, Amira was mentally scared and retreated from the world.

Amira’s mother shared, “She refused to leave the tent and on rare occasions when she did, she came back crying because children called her names and did not play with her. My heart broke seeing my daughter in such a condition.”

Hearing about Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space (CFS) established in the camp, Amira’s mother encouraged her to attend the space. The CFSs are providing quality educational and protection services to assist the healing process of children from physical and psychosocial harm and directly promoting their cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing.

“It was near our tent and we heard children singing and playing.” said Amira’s mother. “One employee even approached Sofia and invited her to spend time with other children. But I knew Amira would be uncomfortable around them because of the way she looked.”

Amira had lost some of her hair and her wounds would bleed under the only pair of clothes she wore.

Rowaida, Save the Children’s coordinator at the CFS, shared, “Initially, she stayed in one corner of the room, not speaking or playing with anyone. I noticed disgusted looks on children’s faces when they looked at her. I counseled Amira every day and encouraged her to come into the tent and play with other children. She was very defensive when children approached her. I managed to get her new clothes and asked her mother to clean and bandage her wounds before coming to the CFS.”

Rowaida made sure that Amira participated in all activities at the CFS including lessons related to reading or drawing as well as playing board games and learning songs. This helped build her confidence and become friends with other children. This was careful and patient work, which took several months of continuous efforts by Save the Children team at the CFS.

“A few months ago, I bought my daughter a jacket from the camp.” said Amira’s mother. “As soon as she saw it, she jumped up and down and ran to the CFS to show it to Rowaida. That was the moment I knew that my daughter had recovered.”

She explained how glad she is that Amira comfortably goes to play at the CFS, accompanies her siblings to the mosque and has insisted her to be enrolled at the formal school in the camp.

“I was shy because the other children laughed at me,” explains Amira as she recalls when she first joined the CFS, “now my friends’ names are Rawan, Nour, Aisha, Saba, Yasmine and I want to start going to school with them.”

Save the Children and UNICEF continue to reach an average of 6093 children (between the age of 5 and 13) through 33 Child Friendly Spaces and an average of 460 adolescents (ages 13-18) through 3 Youth Friendly Spaces in Za’atari Refugee Camp and King Abdallah Park Camp.
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