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Anytime we enter a village, we see the smile in children’s faces

06 June 2024, Impact of Our Work, Voices from the Field

A day in the life of Arif in Türkiye

Months after the February 2023 earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, families continue to feel its severe impacts and children’s mental wellbeing is being pushed to the limits. 

In crises like this, when children have been exposed to life-threatening events, they need help to recover and come to terms with what’s happened. Without the right support, the psychological toll on children can be huge.

Help to overcome terrifying experiences 

In Türkiye, Save the Children child protection officer Arif goes out to the villages with his team to provide support to those who have been impacted by the earthquakes. Providing psychosocial support to children is a key part of Save the Children’s response to help children recover.

In his role, Arif engages with children and adults in a range of ways - including play - to provide mental health support. Members of his team conduct play-based recreational activities in a safe and protected space so children can process what happened and have fun.

A full day’s work

Arif takes us through a day in his life as he and his team visit one of the worst hit villages in Türkiye. His day starts before 8am as the team prepare to leave.

“It will be a lot of fun for them [the children] because anytime we enter a village they’re [forming] a circle around us, and they’re very excited and happy and we see the smile in their faces. That makes us happy. As a team that’s where we get our energy,” Arif says .

Watch as Arif shares his day.

On the drive to the village the team pass by areas that have suffered serious damage.

Here you can see the damage caused by the earthquake and it also shows us we have a lot of work to do here in terms of child protection and mental health and psychosocial support.

Arif, child protection officer

“This earthquake has been the most difficult one that Türkiye has faced over the last 20 years … our team has been really eager to come here to provide support because most of us have friends who are living here and their relatives passed away so we wanted to be here and provide support as much as we can.”

Upon arrival at the village, the team identify a safe space to conduct the activity. Soon the children start to arrive to participate in some games. Amidst some stark traces of the earthquakes’ destruction, there is laughter, jumping, clapping and lots of happy chatter.


Staff play with the children in Türkiye to provide mental health and psychosocial support.

Arif shares, “After two and a half hours, we had over 70 children participating. Many of them had fun, you can see that from their faces. It was also fun for us - we were tired, but not tired at the same time, after receiving the feedback from the children.”

But Arif’s working day is not over yet.

Back at the office Arif finishes off the day's work by typing some notes about the events of the day. “Here I am taking some notes about the villages we visited today so in the upcoming weeks we can better address specific needs of this village.”

From there it was time to enjoy some rest and check on a cat and its newborn kittens adopted by the team. “At the end of the day it’s really beautiful to see a mother raising the kittens in our community centre.”

Arif and many dedicated staff are working tirelessly to help children in Türkiye and Syria impacted by the earthquake. By giving to our Children's Emergency Fund you can help us be there for children and their families in times of emergency. 

Photos: Save the Children.

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