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Music for Elaf

24 October 2022, Impact of Our Work

“Life became beautiful in the camp” 

At 17, Elaf is at the intersection of childhood and adulthood. It’s that time where we most yearn for independence so we can explore the world and our place in it. It can be full of challenges and uncertainty; Elaf has had more than her fair share of both. Yet for Elaf, it’s the best time of her life. 

Elaf was born in a remote village in Syria with a rare nerve atrophy condition. Her family could not afford the physical therapy she needed to walk. She always wanted to go to school, but without the resources necessary for treatment or a wheelchair, she was confined to the house and its yard. 
When she was 11, Elaf’s neighbour gave her a second-hand wheelchair. This was the first time she had been lifted off the ground without being carried by someone, and it changed her world. Elaf would go outside, play with other children and insist on having the wheelchair next to her when she slept. 

Less than a year later, the war in Syria reached her village 

A shell destroyed part of her home and the shrapnel injured Elaf, along with each of her siblings. Her family was forced to flee and leave everything behind, including her wheelchair. 

Elaf and her family eventually reached a camp in North East Syria, she was confined to a tent. When a Save the Children case management team met Elaf, they provided her with a wheelchair and referred her to a school and a Child Friendly Space.

Having a wheelchair is something great for me. I felt very sad because we left my wheelchair at our house when we were displaced. I thought I would never have a new one especially after we came to the camp, but I do have one now thanks to Save the Children.


“Not only that, I was also referred to school and the Child Friendly Space. I have been going to both locations for over a year in the wheelchair with the help of my sister. It was then that life became beautiful in the camp.

Elaf with her sister Malek attending her local Child Friendly Space.

“On my first day, my mother and sister helped me prepare for school. I wore my best clothes. After that, my sister pushed my new wheelchair to places I had never seen before … I love both places a lot. I love the school because I had never been to one and never knew how to read and write. I also love the space because I have a great time here. I have friends with whom I can play,” she says. 

In addition to learning to read and write, Elaf’s mobility has helped her to discover her passion. 

“I have also learnt new things here like how to play the musical keyboard. I also sing to my friends and teachers. My teacher helps me learn new songs. We write them down together and I read them over and over again until I memorise them. I wish to become a music teacher in the future,” says Elaf. 

Elaf practices her keyboard skills at the Child Friendly Space.

Child Friendly Spaces offer children a safe environment to recover from their experiences of conflict and displacement. Janda, the child protection facilitator at Elaf’s local Child Friendly Space, believes it is the perfect place for children who have been through such trauma while suffering physical challenges.

“Elaf was one of those children,” says Janda, “She literally discovered new worlds that she knew nothing about here. The latest of those worlds is music.” 

Photos: Muhannad Khaled / Save the Children.

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