Our Visit to Syria
It has been 8 years since we vacationed in Syria. In Damascus, we stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel called The Talisman Hotel de Charme.
Damascus is reputed to be the longest continuously inhabited city in the world. Later, we were impressed with the bustling city of Aleppo and the UNESCO world heritage covered market where we bought up kilograms of olive oil soap. Next, came the water wheels of Homs. There, we were able to speak at length with a reporter for a national newspaper who said he wrote what the government told him to write, and the village of Ma’loula where Aramaic is still spoken. It is believed that this is the language spoken at the time of Christ. Only three cities are left in the world where it is spoken. Ancient antiquities spoke of the rich history of the country in the form of Palmyra, and Crak De Chavalier and the ghost cities of Sergilla where families wandered to enjoy a family picnic on a warm Saturday afternoon. Syria was at the centre of the ancient Silk Road where buyers searched for vibrant silks, aromatic spices, and other luxury items. Yet in spite of the wonder that was Syria, there was an underlying feeling of deep unhappiness amongst the people that was very palpable, and two weeks after we left, war broke out.
The Effects of War on the Children
Sadly, we watched the news as Damascus was bombed, as the covered bridge in Aleppo was destroyed, Palmyra was desecrated, and the water wheels of Homs were demolished. While this destruction is sad, the even greater travesty was reeked upon its people and most notably its children many of whom were not even born when the war started. The Syrians who remained in their country have suffered unspeakably. Many Syrians decided to escape the country. Of the 6 million people who have been displaced, 2.8 million have been children.
Today after eight years of war, Syria has a generation of children who have never known anything but war. Today the war seems to be de-escalating, and, yet oddly, the effects on children has grown.
In a recent email, Ali described her work with Happiness Again which is an NGO based in Amman, Jordan that works with Syrian children who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The centre offers a three-month programme and is entirely self-funded.
“The programme includes a variety of different therapy sessions including; sand, play, music, psychodrama, and yoga. We are working in collaboration with yoga centres to both raise funds and awareness of the campaign.
The aim to help more children attend the programme. If you would like to be part of making this happen, we would be really happy.
An Email of Support from a Friend
A friend of Ali’s was able to visit the facility and sent the following email to Ali describing what she saw.
“Helen and I visited Happiness Again in Amman on Sunday 22nd of April. Initial impressions were of a calm and peaceful centre with lots of bright colours and child-friendly activity rooms. We sat and spoke to Susanne Darwan about the centre and its history. We learned a little about Susanne herself and some of the people who have been involved in setting up the healing programme for children. We had a frank discussion about the programme itself, how it works and it’s limitations. The people dealing with the children need more support and training but even with their limited resources, they are giving these severely traumatized children hope for a better future. We met some children and watched their Yoga class, they then showed us their tree of life on the wall. Each child has their photo on the tree of life and a card with a wish written on it. Visitors to the centre can take a card and fulfill the wish inside. These children want normal things like children the world over, dolls, bicycles and electronic gadgets. We felt privileged to be able to grant a wish each. We explored the sand therapy room, the music therapy room and the kitchen where the children learn to make their own food. How lovely it would have been for them to have a garden but that is not possible so instead they go on day trips. I feel honoured to have met some of the children and their carers. I was moved to tears by the compassion and love on display in Happiness Again and I will do all I can to help raise much-needed funds for them. All the best, Eileen”
How You Can Help
The aim to help more children attend the programme. If you would like to be part of making this happen, we would be really happy. The cost of the programme for one child is 455 British Pounds. Ali is hoping to raise 18, 200 British Pounds so that 40 children can attend
- We hope you will join us on this journey by doing three simple things. Make a pledge; follow us and share our posts with your friends and family; spread the word by simply tagging #Happiness Again. We will keep you regularly updated on our progress.
- If you would like to participate in the fundraising campaign Ali would be most grateful for a donation which you can make here.
- “If you belong to a yoga club and would like to arrange a fundraiser please email Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
- Another option to consider and both Alison and I would be most grateful if you would be willing to advertise this opportunity on your blog as well. This would enable us to increase the exposure of this fundraiser even further.
Thanks for taking the time to read this!