Malik makes new friends again

Eleven-year-old Malik* was forced to flee the violence in Syria with his parents and three brothers. Their long, arduous journey to safety ended with their arrival in the Netherlands. Now Malik takes part in activities organised by TeamUp - a joint project from War Child, Save the Children and UNICEF Nederland in support of refugee children. This is his story

Three years ago, Malik lived with his family in Syria. Every day he was forced to sleep with fear. He remembers the endless noise of helicopters and explosives. “When we went to sleep, there was a helicopter throwing things down,” Malik remembers.

“And then boom! It was bombs and everything was destroyed.”

It was too dangerous for Malik and his family to stay in Syria. Malik’s father first undertook the journey to safety. He arrived in the Netherlands. A year later, Malik, his mother and his three brothers followed. It was a very long journey. On foot, by boat and by plane. Eventually they arrived, via Turkey, in the Netherlands.

Feeling at home

The Netherlands has come to feel more and more like home to Malik. “It was very dangerous in Syria,” he remembers. “And in Turkey I had to work for more than 12 hours a day because my daddy was already in the Netherlands. And my mom had to take care of my brother. In the Netherlands it’s safe and I don’t have to work again. Here I can play with my friends."

Malik also goes to school in the Netherlands - and is learning quickly. Malik likes to read and his Dutch is getting better. Malik takes part in TeamUp activities such as sports, games and dance. Football is the activity Malik likes the most.

Stability and routine

TeamUp activities are scheduled at fixed times each week to provide children with a much-needed sense of stability and routine. This stability helps the children taking part to forget their bad experiences. They learn to make friends and trust other children and adults once again.

Malik breaks into a broad smile when he talks about his best friend Souffan, who he met at the asylum reception centre.

"Souffan is my new best friend! We play a lot with each other. "