Mixed feelings! That was how Inas* felt when she saw the new baby of her foster parents. She was very happy to see that cute little creature but at the same time she was worried. Although she was only ten years old; she knew that her family could not afford to raise two children because they were displaced and have only little to live on. Moreover, she felt how much her foster parents loved their new born who came after more than 15 years of marriage.
Inas’ fears became reality three months after the baby was born. Her foster family sent her to live with one of their relatives. She was told that it is going to be a temporary visit. However, she knew that it was not. What pained her was that she has lived with this family for more than seven years since they found her in Altadamon neighborhood south of Damascus when she was three years old.
“I spent one month with our relatives but then she made me leave the house because she had no money to feed me. I never expected I will face such a thing. It was a very scary moment for me” said Inas.
After she was abandoned, Inas spent three days in the street and had to sleep in a park during the very cold nights of January 2017. A woman saw Inas crying and tried to talk to her. Once she knew her story, she took her to the police station, and there they transferred her to one of the SOS interim care centres in Damascus.
Through the interim care centres (ICCs), SOS Children’s Villages provides unaccompanied and abandoned children with short term alternative care services as well as psychological, educational and medical support. At the same time SOS social workers search for the child’s biological or extended families in order to reunify them together after providing them with the needed support through reunification strengthening project. Unfortunately, this was not possible for many children living in SOS centres who lost or separated from their families during the war in Syria.
“When Inas came to the centre, there was an urgent need to provide her with psychological support. She looked like she was fine, but she was having from nightmares every night”, said Nagham, Inas’s care giver at the SOS centre. “Because her foster family abandoned her, Inas started asking about her biological parents but till now we couldn’t find them. However, we are trying now to reach her extended family” she added. Before coming to SOS centre, Inas never went to school. But she has a strong wish to learn how to read and write like other children of her age. In two years and with her hard work and patience, Inas was able to finish two intensified curriculums that are specified for children who were deprived of education during the Syrian crisis. Next year she will be able to catch up with children in her age at school and that is something that made her feel proud of her self.
Inas has a dream to become a football player; despite being not good at the playground, she enjoys every moment of the game and always asks about its rules and tactics. For Inas, there are no games or activities that are specified for boys. She simply does things that make her feels happy and builds new friendships.
Because there is still hope but only a little to find Inas's parents or her extended family, it became necessary for her to move to one of the small group homes that SOS Children's Villages is going to open in 2019 in Sahnaya area that is located in Damascus vicinity. There, she will receive care and support in a family-like environment that helps the child feels more comfortable and stable. In her new home, Inas is going to live with a caregiver as well as other children from SOS centres who have not been reunified yet with their families for so many different reasons. Together, they will share happy moments and will stand with each other to overcome the difficult experiences they went through in their life.
*The child’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.