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22 March 2018, Impact of Our Work, Emergencies

Since 2011, children in Syria have been bombed and starved.

They’ve seen friends and family die before their eyes, or get buried under the rubble of their homes. They’ve watched as schools and hospitals have been destroyed. They’ve been denied food, medicine and vital aid – and been ripped apart from family and friends as they’ve fled the fighting.

Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan opened in 2012 for people escaping the horrors of the Syrian war. Today, the camp is home to almost 80,000 refugees. More than half are children. As the size of the population has grown, so too have the needs of the people living in the camp. Save the Children has been there since the beginning to help meet the needs of children who, for the time being, have nowhere but Zaatari Camp to call home.

We have set up safe spaces, where children can meet, play, and talk about their experiences. We support distressed children who need special care after experiencing extreme levels of violence, and we look after their mental, social and emotional wellbeing.
It's hard to imagine what life is like inside one of the largest refugee camps in the world. In this video, Amer*, a teenager from Syria, will walk you through his daily life, share his dreams of becoming a barber, and remind us all of the power of hope in an uncertain and sometimes frightening world.

Children attending programs within the camp are dealing with a range of issues relating to the effects of war. Programs like the one Amer is participating in provide an outlet for expression and a safe environment for children to simply enjoy being children.

Our work in Zaatari

How you're support is helping to improve the lives of those living inside Zaatari refugee camp.

We provide snacks and juice to children enrolled in programs


We deliver more than 17 tonnes of bread each day


We provide vocational training


We operate safe spaces to play and learn

Rainbow Kindergarten

Save the Children launched Rainbow Kindergarten, the first pre-school in Zaatari Refugee Camp, in December 2012. It is now used by more than 1,000 Syrian children between the ages of three and five every week.

Early childhood is a critical time, when kids learn the basic social and cognitive skills that are essential as they grow up. At Rainbow Kindergarten, children whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict get the opportunity to continue learning and meet new friends.

As well as being a safe learning environment in the camp, the kindergarten provides drinking water and a nutritious snack to its preschoolers.

Safe You, Safe Me

At Save the Children’s Multi-Activity Centre in Zaatari camp, more than 5,000 boys and girls have the chance to learn and play. One of the programs we run in the centre is Safe You, Safe Me. It helps children between the ages of 7 and 16 recognise that violence is not OK, and gives them the chance to learn about their rights.

The program uses a booklet that’s designed to help children learn about types of violence commonly faced by boys and girls throughout the world – it’s not designed to equip children with personal safety skills, but give them ideas about how they can protect themselves from violence and when they should ask for help.

HEART (Healing and Education through the Arts)

Another program we run in our Multi-Activity Centre, is HEART (Healing and Education through the Arts), which uses art, in all its different forms, to help children who have witnessed or suffered traumatic experiences, as many of the children in Zaatari Camp have.

Activities include drawing, painting, singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, play-acting, storytelling, puppet-making and other activities. Children begin the healing process when they are able to share their feelings or memories, through art or words, with a trusted adult. The sessions also help to build children’s self-confidence and their ability to socialise with other kids.

Save the Children staff working in these programs are trained to recognise when children are experiencing psychological problems. When necessary, children are referred to agencies who can provide counselling to help them overcome their difficulties.

Quick Facts about Zaatari Camp

  • More than 4,500 children attend Save the Children’s kindergartens in Zaatari Camp each week.
  • Every morning, Save the Children distributes bread to 75,000 refugees in Zaatari Camp in Jordan.
  • Save the Children’s Multi-Activity Centre in Zaatari Camp provides a space where more than 5,000 boys and girls learn and play.
  • Zaatari Camp has 2 hospitals, 9 health care centres, and 1 delivery unit with 120 community health volunteers.
  • Over 20,000 school aged children are enrolled in 1 of the 9 schools operated in the camp.


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