Daring to Dream in Shatila

Lebanon is home to more than half a million refugee children who have escaped the war in Syria - children like Sadek (13) and Jamal (11). The boys live in the massive Shatila refugee camp, where War Child works with local organisations to provide vital psychosocial support. This is their story

Sadek and Jamal escaped the violence of Syria’s horrifying civil war to find shelter in Lebanon some four years ago. Yet the two boys struggled with the memories of the disturbing events they witnessed on their journey to safety - and at first found little comfort on their arrival in Lebanon.

After several months living in an abysmal house with no floors - in an area where work was scarce - the boys and their families moved to the Shatila refugee camp. Inside the camp the boys began to take part in activities operated by community organisation ‘Ahlam Lajik’ (‘Dreams of a Refugee’) - including the War Child project Time to Be a Child, funded by IKEA Foundation.

The Time to Be a Child project is designed to protect Syrian and other vulnerable children from abuse and provide them with the skills to boost their resilience. War Child supports Ahlam Lajik facilitators inside the Shatila camp to support children with psychosocial support and structured recreational activities.

New friends and feelings 

Sadek and Jamal have become part of a new community through their involvement in Time to Be a Child - a community of children from different backgrounds and nationalities. “We have all become like brothers,” says Sadek. “And the activities that we participate in through Time to Be a Child distract us from the terrors we experienced before evacuating the war in Syria.”

Jamal adds: “Last week we were given papers and asked to draw what we want to be in our futures, when we grow up. We all discussed our dreams and widened our perspectives. We are also informed about our rights, how we ought to behave in public, and how to be good people in general.”

The boys want to set up a community organisation of their own when they return to Syria - and be a positive influence on other children and teach them that there is always hope for a brighter future. Sadek reflects: “We always say that maybe the one good thing that came out of this war was that the universe brought all us refugee children together.”

“Our only wish is that the war will end, so that we can go back to Syria and take back all the friends we made here with us.”