Eleven year old Maya plays freely on the swings, laughing with her siblings. She has a big grin on her face and it is clear that she feels relaxed and safe.
Here, in the ‘Safe Haven’ centre in Bar Elias, Lebanon, the war in Syria and the hardships her family has endured are distant memories.
Maya, who featured on last year’s Trócaire box, is a refugee from Syria. Her family has been pushed from their land as a result of civil war, and they have fled to safety into Lebanon.
The Syrian conflict, now in its tenth year, has resulted in huge amounts of trauma. Half the population have been forced from their homes. Almost 5 million children have been born in Syria in the last decade knowing only war. As a result, over half of refugees have experienced a severe emotional disorder.
Trócaire’s local partner SAWA is providing Maya and her community with this ‘Safe Haven’ centre where children can play in the playground, do art and attend classes. It feels like a breath of fresh air to enter the centre, which has a wide open playground area surrounded by flowers.
The children attending the centre enjoy playing on the swings, clambering up the climbing frame and spinning around in the playground. The playground uses colourful materials to help children feel safe and relaxed, so they can escape the hardships of daily life in the refugee camps and have fun with other children.