SYRIA - Reunification strengthening project – February 12 2019 Ahlam stands on her feet again Depression pushed Ahlam to leave her three children in SOS interim care centres in 2015. She is now able to care for them again thanks to the support she receives from SOS Reunification strengthening project “ I have always felt angry and was shocked at mothers who abandon their children, I never imagined that life difficulties could push a mother to lose hope and do such a thing” said Ahlam, a mother of three children with eyes full of regret “ I am really grateful that you helped my children during the hardest days of my life” she continued. Ahlam separated from her husband in 2015 due to his cruelty with her and her three children. Shortly after their separation, the father disappeared in one of the areas where clashes broke out in Damascus rural. Unfortunately, they were left without news about him. Whether good or bad. This made Ahlam live in uncertainty struggling with many unanswered questions and imprisoned in the imaginations that did not leave her mind. As the days passed, Ahlam began to suffer from depression. She did not know it at first but she was unable to feel sad or happy. All she felt was a void in her soul. Even when she had to flee her home with her children in Damascus rural because of the deteriorating security situation, she was unable to feel anything. “ The 20 May 2015 , I still remember that day and how my children were looking at me disappointedly. All they wanted was to stay with me but I was not able to give them anything, even mother’s love” said Ahlam who decided to put her children in one of SOS Children’s Villages interim care centres in Damascus where unaccompanied children receive care and support for a short term period. During their stay in the centre, the SOS team, study the children cases and work to find their biological or extended families in order to reunify them together. Moreover, they help families who are experiencing crisis or hardships to be strong again and able to protect their children and provide them with needed care. Before the family reunification that happened in February 2016, Ahlam received Psychiatric treatment and psychological support sessions organized by SOS reunification strengthening project (RSP) team. It was very necessary to help her get prepared to welcome her children back. In parallel, her children, twelve-year- old Mouhamad, ten-year- old Rasha and six –year- old Ziad* received psychological support sessions and trauma therapy while they were living in the SOS centre. During the preparations for the family reunification, Ahlam was able to rent a small apartment in Damascus rural after she received financial support from the RSP team. This support made her so happy and optimistic that she started looking for schools near her new house so she could register her children there. “ Through RSP we provide Ahlam and her children with support in different areas, such as medical insurance, educational support, school supplies and clothes” said Racha, one of RSP team members. The educational situation of Muhammad, Rasha and Ziad has improved a lot since their reunification with their mother. They even started to attend special educational courses, and that helped them get good marks in School and which makes them show their test marks proudly to RSP team during their psychosocial support visits. Through RSP, SOS Children’s Villages will soon reinforce its support for the family by providing Ahlam with the needed financial and advisory support to start her income generating project. This small project will help her earn an income and create a stable home for her children who need nothing in this life more than a daily cuddle and a hug from their lovely mother. *Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family members.