SYRIA – December 16 2018

Laith, the hope generator

He was looking at his mother walking back and forth trying to calm his crying baby brother, when Laith* closed his eyes and laid down next to his starving siblings in the ground tunnel where they were hiding. None of them was complaining, because feeling hunger was something they got used to. A few minutes later, the seven-year old laith fell asleep despite the crying of many children inside the tunnel and the sound of bombing and rockets that were falling outside. An hour later, Laith’s mother woke him up and asked him to carry his baby brother.

“She told me that she needs to go outside the tunnel to bring something to eat for us and milk for my brother, and she took my older sister with her” said Laith. “I remember there were no bombing sounds at that moment, but few minutes after they left, a big rocket hit and I thought that the tunnel was going to collapse over us” he added.

Unfortunately, the strike was so strong that Laith's mother was killed. His sister was hit by shrapnel in her head and fell into a coma for 15 days. After the bombing stopped the following day, Laith and his three brothers went outside the tunnel with their neighbours and went to the field hospital to check if their mother and sister were there. At their arrival, they saw their father who was hiding in another tunnel in the day before. His presence eased the bitterness of losing their mother and made them feel safe.

Laith's father could not bear the idea of losing another member of his family. Therefore, he took his children including his daughter who had just awakened from her coma and went to the humanitarian corridor to escape from the besieged areas of Eastern Ghouta. After three hours, the family passed the humanitarian corridor safely. But at the check point, Laith’s father was taken to serve in the military in Aleppo rural and the children were handed to the Syrian Red Crescent organization that brought them to one of Damascus SOS interim care centre in May 2018.

Living in a war zone for many years has made Laith a strong and responsible child. This was very obvious during his first psychological support sessions and activities he started to attend when he came to SOS interim care centre.

“Laith is grateful and happy for the good things that he found here at SOS interim care centre. He enjoys safety, delicious food, going to school for the first time and all the small beautiful things that made him live his childhood again” said Rana who has provided alternative care for Laith and his siblings since their arrival to SOS centre.

When he first came to the centre, Laith felt happy that he had his own bed, drawer and toys. Every morning he arranges his bed and put his favourite bear on it. He is very cute and polite child

Laith's caregiver

In 2018, the reunification team of SOS Children’s Villages Syria, was able to reunify 109 children with their biological families after providing them with the needed support through SOS family strengthening program to ensure that the children are safe from harm and their care and well-being are being supported. Unfortunately, this was not possible for Laith and his siblings, because their father serves in the military in dangerous areas for an indefinite period. He can barely visit them once every two months. As they cannot reintegrate them with their father, a long term care alternative solution had to be found. Through SOS small group homes, Laith and his biological siblings can enjoy stability in a family environment with their new SOS brothers and sisters.

During his stay in the centre, Laith made new friendships with five children in SOS care, but his best friend is Dalia. They both registered at the same school this year. Every morning, they go there together by bus. “I want to become a famous football player when I grow up. If only I can persuade Dalia to play football with us, she is strong and fast but she doesn’t like to play this game”.

Laith is very happy that his siblings and close friends are going to move with him to the new homes that SOS Children’s Villages is going to open in Damascus vicinity. Soon, the children's laughter will fill each room of these homes. There will be no place for sadness, but for the love and care of SOS mother for those children who are not possible to be reintegrated with their biological families.

The child’s name has been change to protect his privacy