3 months after the earthquake: HI helps Syrian children to overcome their trauma
Mohammed, Taim, Hosain are three of the young survivors receiving psychological support from HI’s partners after the deadly February earthquake in northwest Syria. These are their stories.
Mohammed, 12 years old, is drawing during a psychological support session in the HI partner institution in Idlib. | © HI
When asked how he is doing, Mohammed, 12, replies with a smile, "Tamam, tamam", "I'm fine, I'm fine". The wound on his head has healed and he still has six rehabilitation sessions to go before his broken leg is completely healed.
Mohammed is the eldest of three children, all of whom were unharmed during the February earthquake. They were able to escape before the flat they were living in collapsed violently. Mohammed and his family since found another flat to move into and Mohammed has been able to return to school:
Some wounds are less visible. However, the traumas are deeply rooted in the minds of these children.
Sleep disorders are among the recurring symptoms of these little earthquake survivors, explains Ammad , one of the psychologists at HI’s partner hospital:
Music, games, drawing... recreational activities to ease anxiety
"Baba, Baba", "Daddy, Daddy", little Hosain repeats. He was visiting his aunt with his mother and siblings in a small village near Idlib when the earthquake struck. Hosain, 4, was trapped under the rubble for three days; all his relatives who were with him that day died. Doctors had to amputate Hosain’s left foot.
As Hosain runs around, asking for a toy or his mobile phone, his father confides that there is not a day that goes by without Hosain asking for his mum. The child also ask his father if he remember any moments that they spent together.
After each rehabilitation session at HI partner hospital, the boy meets Ammad, the psychologist:
Taim's favourite thing is drawing. His right hand was broken in the earthquake, but fortunately, he can still use his pens and pencils. Taim and his family were staying with relatives in Turkey when the earthquake struck. Taim and his mother - who was seriously injured - now live with their grandmother.
HI's partner teams in charge of mental health and psychosocial support agree that children are especially resilient after tragedy: these children seem to rebuild themselves more quickly than adults and elderly people. But this varies from one child to another and from the environment around them: