“My twin daughters, Safar and Marwa, were just babies when we fled Daesh,” says Khalil, a father of three living in Mamilian displacement camp.
“They are still too young to fully understand any of this, but the stress of living in this camp has clearly affected them.”
Despite the fact that both girls recently turned four, neither of them is yet able to speak.
“They are having to grow up in a camp surrounded by thousands upon thousands of traumatised families,” explains Khalil. “They can sense it’s not right and that we need help, and this has affected their development.”
Safar and Marwa are just two of the estimated 1.5 Iraqi million children currently living as refugees in their own country.
They have fled their homes and schools to escape ISIS, and now live in sprawling camps across the country. Of these, only half have access to education. “Before ISIS, I used to always imagine what my family’s future would be like,” continues Khalil.
“I pictured good things for all my children, and was happy. But then we had to flee, and we lost all our hopes and dreams and now I have no idea what will happen next.”
With kindergartens now operating across the country, AMAR is striving to protect the crucial stages of early child development whilst helping to restore hope.
Teaching children vital life skills such as reading and writing, whilst also providing Iraq’s youngest generation with safe spaces to play and develop, AMAR teams are helping to ensure that Iraq’s children do not lose their childhoods to conflict.
“Safar and Marwa started at AMAR’s kindergarten last week, and already we have noticed a huge difference,” explains Khalil.
“They are still shy, but they have started to speak.” “There’s not much life in the camp, but the kindergarten is changing my children’s lives and is securing them some sort of future. I have hope again.”
This International Children’s Day, AMAR is reaffirming its commitment to protecting childhood and saving Iraq’s next generation. Help us achieve this. Donate today and help children like Marwa and Safar.
by Katie Welsford