Play areas helping children to enjoy their childhoods
In Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, Trócaire along with local partner SAWA is providing a space where children can be children again.
Close to Maya’s home is the “Safe Haven” centre which provides support to Syrian refugee families, including relief and food, education, psychological support and vocational training.
The centre is surrounded by informal refugee camps, with long rows of tents and more permanent structures. 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.
Maya’s family are grateful for the support they receive from SAWA and are attending psycho-social support sessions at the Safe Haven centre. During the psycho-social support sessions, the children are brought together to meet with social workers to talk about their lives. They do activities like drawing and painting. SAWA also does activities with the children to build their connection with their Syrian cultural heritage.
The day the centre opened, the children were delighted and ran about the playground, happy to have somewhere safe and protected to play.
Hassan says that before his children went to the psycho-social support “they didn’t have any friends and they stayed at home and fought with each other”. However, after attending the sessions and doing painting and drawing, they now have friends and do a lot of activities.
“After the sessions my daughters are more comfortable, more active, are helping around the house, more involved, very positive and have more friends,” says Hassan.
Maya now plays freely on the swings, laughing with her siblings. Here, in the ‘Safe Haven’ centre, her mind is temporarily freed from the war in Syria and the hardships her family face.