Two months ago, a French painter asked me to send her some drawings made by Syrian children for her annual exhibition of children who lived under war. I asked the help of our psychosocial project team.
Caritas Syria staff had started working in February 2015 in four schools located in Jaramana, a suburb of Damascus. This area has been hit by heavy bombing from mortars since the crisis began. It also has a lot of families who have been forced from their homes in hot areas like El-Yarmouk Camp, Daraya, Jobar, Ghouta.
Our team visits these schools three times per week. They provide trauma healing and working with peace building films and puppets. The children do a lot of activities, such as games, handicrafts and drawing to express their emotions. Caritas tries to create a space where a child can express their feelings emotionally.
I asked the team not for pictures of war, but just of pictures of what the children feared the most. When I received the drawings, I was shocked. I thought I would have to sift through the drawings to find one or two of war to send to the French painter. Instead, I couldn’t find one which wasn’t of war.
The use by the children of red to depict blood and violence was also very troubling. Some of these children came from hot areas and were touched directly by war, and some of them not, but all of them draw war in the same violent way. The drawings, bloody and harsh, were made just by a class of girls.
After seeing these drawings, what can I say about the children in my country. They are perhaps the weakest ones in this war. They are like a sponge that absorbs all the war dirt and store it inside. The killing, destruction, devastation, fear and loss of loved ones dig deep into their innocent hearts.
What are those bad things hiding inside them going to be in the future. The little ones who became adults in small bodies, what is their tomorrow going to be like. A whole generation has been destroyed from the inside by the violent hand of war. How will this children rebuild a country also destroyed by war.
There are 7.5 million Syrian children in need of humanitarian aid. 2.6 million are no longer in school and 2 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.