Palestinian refugee children rejoice at summer camp in Aleppo

22 August 2011

August 2011
Neirab refugee camp, Syria

Thrilled and excited, some 680 UNRWA students gathered with their parents and teachers at Jaffa school in Neirab camp, Aleppo, to celebrate the conclusion of their summer camp on 28 July. Under the theme ‘Let’s play, have fun and learn together’, the camp brought together more than 600 children from different backgrounds to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation and peace.

“We have designed several arts and crafts programmes according to different age groups. Children can have fun and improve their painting, drawing and sport skills,” said Nashwa Abdelkarim, senior community development coordinator for the Neirab Rehabilitation Project. “The activities would help the children enhance their imagination power and personality-building.”

The children were treated to songs and folklore dances, theatre and a puppet show. During the six-week camp, the children enjoyed their right to play and acquired knowledge about life skills. They had also the chance to participate in workshops about voluntary work, astronomy, and active leadership, and had entertaining trips to the swimming pool, the zoo, and paper, biscuit, and ice-cream factories.

Enthusiasm

Every year, summer activities for school children are professionally organised at UNRWA schools in Syria. Each year the programmes are tailored to suit all pupil levels: high, medium and low achievers as well as pupils with special needs. Some activities are coordinated with the education and the relief and social services programmes. A side benefit of this activity has been a change in some children’s behaviour. They have started to respect each other. The children’s enthusiasm at school also spills over into their homes. They happily tell the stories they hear at the school.

“To see happy children is the most beautiful sight in the world, that view we witnessed on 28 July evening,” said Reyad Mansour from the community development team of the Neirab Rehabilitation Project. “It’s a great moment for us to realise that we can put a smile on the children’s faces,” said Ms Abdelkarim.

“My hobbies are singing, dancing, and painting. My parents were very supportive and wanted me to fulfil my dreams. They agreed upon my wish to join the summer club,” said Nermeen al-Said. “I participated in every single activity from dance and sports to painting and learning programmes, and I enjoyed an excellent time with my friends.”

Community involvement

More than 1,000 people, including students and parents, turned out for the eagerly anticipated yearly event. The evening was a great success, with happy and cheerful faces visible everywhere. Community involvement was the key to the summer camp’s success, thanks to the work of the community support team of the Neirab Rehabilitation Project, in coordination with the camp development committee and the local community of the Neirab camp.

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