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Kareem's courage

23 August 2023, Impact of Our Work

Six months on from the Türkiye Syria earthquake

“When the earthquake happened, our house cracked, and began to shake. I was scared, and my heart was beating so fast,”  recalls 9-year-old Kareem,* a young boy whose life was turned upside down by the catastrophic earthquakes in February 2023. Now living in a tent in his grandfather’s yard in Northwest Syria, Kareem's experience has been marked by both profound challenge and immeasurable strength.

Kareem's family had a home they were proud of before the earthquakes, but now they must make do with a tent. His father, Omar,* has struggled to find steady work, and Kareem misses the joys of Eid festivities. In previous years his family would celebrate this time with special food and visits to amusement parks. 

Kareem* (bottom right) with his parents and four siblings.
Photo: Bonyan Organisation.

Yet, despite the hardships, Kareem finds support, education and healing at a Child Friendly Space managed by Save the Children partner Bonyan Organisation. Kareem’s dreams for the future are simple: “I hope that there will be no earthquakes, I hope that my father and I will water the trees, and the peaches and pomegranates will bear fruit.”

Our earthquake response

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that shook southern Türkiye and northern Syria, millions of children were affected and tens of thousands of lives were lost. Many more were left homeless, grappling with life-threatening challenges such as lack of access to clean water, proper sanitation, and the risk of disease.

Within hours of the disaster, Save the Children teams mobilised to provide support, including distributing essential items, providing food and hygiene kits, installing water tanks, and establishing Child Friendly Spaces. Despite the complex and widespread difficulties, our teams continue to work tirelessly to help children like Kareem.

Hygiene and dignity kits being distributed to affected families in Hatay, Türkiye. These kits, which are critical
to stopping the spread of disease, can support the hygiene needs of a family of five for up to two months.
Photo: Ayşe Nur Gençalp / Save the Children Türkiye.

A critical difference

Through the generosity of supporters like you, Save the Children has reached 586,951 people, including 318,657 children like Kareem, with critical supplies and assistance. The support of caring donors and long-standing relationships we have built with local communities enabled us to respond swiftly in Türkiye and Syria.

Six months on, our work has transitioned from emergency response to long-term resilience programs. Together with our kind supporters and partner organisations, we have made a difference in the lives of children and families by providing essential services, including:

Turning our gaze forward

“After the earthquake, I became afraid, and I could not sleep,”  Kareem tells us. At the Child Friendly Space that he attends, Kareem takes part in activities to continue his education, support his psychological wellbeing, and promote resilience. The support he receives through his participation at the Child Friendly Space has helped Kareem to overcome his fear “today, I’m no longer afraid of the earthquake.”

Kareem* and friends participating in an activity at the Child Friendly Space.
Photo: Bonyan Organisation.

Kareem’s progress is a small but significant step towards recovery, and a brighter future. The strength and hope of children like Kareem inspire us to keep moving forward, and we invite you to continue this journey with us.

Kareem* playing football with his friends at the Child Friendly Space.
Photo: Bonyan Organisation.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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