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Hope even in the darkest of times

24 May 2022, Voices from the Field

Messages of solidarity from those who have lived through war

As children and their families continue to flee the Ukraine crisis, child refugees from Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan have shared their advice on how to cope with the trauma of war.

Their common message: Have hope.

The conflict in Ukraine has left more than two-thirds of the country’s children displaced. As they flee their homes with just the clothes on their backs, they are hearing explosions and witnessing horrors on the road. There is grave concern for the risk to their mental health and potential for long-term trauma. 

Lending a voice of hope by sharing their experiences are 16-year-old Daniel*, 14-year-old Fatima*, and 18-year-old Ghaith*. All three have fled from war-torn countries and are now in a safe place where they are rebuilding their lives. 

Play sport or draw

Five years ago, at just 11 years old, Daniel was forced to flee his home in South Sudan after conflict broke out. He has vivid memories of hunger, sickness and violence.

He says, “Sometimes I break down and cry. You cry from within because of the things that have happened.”

But Daniel is now safe in a refugee camp in Uganda, where he has access to an education and healthcare. 

“What has helped me is some of the advice that Save the Children gives to the children around here. They teach you how to adapt to life here and to forget the past, because sometimes you get bad dreams … The other help that I have got from Save the Children is that they have given us basins and advice about respecting elders and bringing peace to the family and community.” 

Now Daniel wants to pass on some of what he’s learned to the children of Ukraine.

“My advice to the children in Ukraine is this - things happen, just endure and don't worry, there's nothing else you can do for it has already happened.”

I see playing football, netball, and drawing or painting helps forget about the past.

Daniel, 16, Uganda


Despite the challenges of living in a refugee camp, Fatima is now learning and has hope.
Photo: Save the Children

Believe in yourself

Fatima was just nine years old when she was forced to flee from her home in Myanmar. After arriving in Bangladesh, Fatima and her family struggled to adjust to life in the refugee camp.

She received psychosocial support to help her recover from the horrors she had witnessed. After some time she was able to access basic education through the learning centres supported by Save the Children.

Fatima is now enrolled in school, along with her eight other siblings, two of whom are now teachers themselves. Fatima has a message for the children of Ukraine.

Do not be afraid, believe in yourself.

Fatima, 14, Bangladesh

“I have been through this; I can feel what is going through you. Everything will be fine and one day you will be back to your home like you use to be,” says Fatima.


Ghaith attends football sessions that help improve his wellbeing and where he can have fun.
Photo: Sherbel Dissi/ Save the Children

Better days for the future

Ghaith and his family fled Syria at the height of the brutal war in 2013. He witnessed things no child ever should, such as shelling, and his uncle and four cousins being murdered. 

He is now part of Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation’s Coaching for Life program in the refugee camp, where football coaching sessions support his mental, emotional and physical well-being.
 
When asked how to help children in Ukraine, Ghaith has this to say.

“We should provide them (refugees from Ukraine) with help, such as Save the Children, that changes the lives of children, and promises children better days in the future. 

They need support, and education and to have better prospects, like playing sports, and whatever they need to forget about their past and to hope for a better future.

Ghaith, 18, Jordan

Millions of children are living in conflict around the world. The messages of Daniel, Fatima and Ghaith are shared in solidarity to give hope, from those who have lived through the horrors of war themselves.

*Names have been changed to protect their identity.

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