Funded by: Solidarity Action for Human Development
Timeline: January – April 2016
Collaborating with community leaders from Bozan and Al Qosh, WRO developed a social cohesion and psychosocial support program for Yazidi and Christian IDP and host community children residing the two respective villages. In this time period WRO created specialised activities using arts and crafts, music, storytelling, and games for children in both villages. WRO project staff received intensive training by a child protection expert on the key approaches to psychosocial care and social integration for children affected by conflict and displacement. WRO staff discussed possible scenarios they might witness from children in the classroom and potential signs of PTSD in children. In preparation for the registration of children to the centers, WRO staff began their door-to-door mobilization throughout the communities informing parents of the upcoming project activities and opportunities for children to engage. They visited 250 households throughout Bozan and Al Qosh.
Sample Project Outcomes/Achievements: During the activity sessions, children created stories that recalled memories of their lives before the conflict and displacement. They also participated in drawing exercises featuring children form other ethnic groups, showing similarities that all people shared. Physical activities focused on games and tasks that forged group participation, unity and togetherness and emphasized the importance of working in a team and supporting one another.
For each troubling or negative stereotype about ethnicity that was shared during informal education activities, the social workers and facilitators mobilised to engage and breakdown the misconceptions and boost conversation around advocating for unity. For example, during one drawing session, a child in the Al Qosh Center drew a picture depicting Yazidi people. In her drawing she drew a camp with sad people living there. When asked to explain her picture to the group she said that Yazidi people are in camps “because they are being punished for loving the devil”. She heard these claims from adults in her community. Examples such as these are key in creating needed conversations among children about displacement, diversity and misconceptions that lead to the alienation and dehumanizing of others. Leaving such ideas unchecked almost certainly contributes to the continuation of the cycle of violence.
As the target population are children and families who have been affected by displacement and conflict. Many have undergone psychological counselling and referral to relevant social service providers. For children that participated in WRO social cohesion programs a few exhibited behaviors that required psychological follow-up. In total 400 individuals from the Al Qosh Center received psychosocial support and referrals and benefitted from social cohesion/educational activities. The Bozan Center assisted 139 individuals.