ICMC’s “Fun Day” helps Syrian children in Jordan overcome trauma and isolation

Mafraq, 15 June 2016 - Almost 170 Syrian and Jordanian children participated in the ICMC “Children’s Fun Day”, during which a series of games and educational activities were organized by the ICMC Protection Center in Mafraq, Northern Jordan.

children playing during Children's Fun Day in MafraqChildren playing during the "Fun Day" in Mafraq. Photo: ICMC/ Aya Za'wit The ICMC Protection Center offers a Child Friendly Space where boys and girls can safely play as their mothers attend literacy classes or focus group discussions. However, several parents find it difficult to bring their children along on the occasion of their visits, especially in the case of big families or households located far from downtown Mafraq. In order to allow even the most isolated and vulnerable children to benefit from the Center’s services, last May ICMC designed and organized a full day of recreational and socializing activities, held outdoors at the local National Football Field.

The event gathered both Syrian and Jordanian children, so as to facilitate the integration of refugee families within the Jordanian host community; the participants, aged 5 to 12, came from different neighborhoods – many of which in the outskirts of Mafraq. Once arrived in the football camp, the children found a number of “play stations” created around different games, each supervised by ICMC staff members and volunteers, who took care of explaining the games’ rules and made sure everyone would enjoy the activity. Throughout the day, the children also received educational materials, such as schoolbags, copybooks and stationary, in order to support their school attendance. All activities took place outdoors on the grass field: an unusual experience for many Syrian children, who often live and play in overcrowded settings.

The overall goal of the Fun Day was to help the children cope with the harsh psychological and emotional impact caused by war and persecution, as well as by the difficult conditions they often experience in Jordan. For this reason, each game had been chosen so to teach important values – among others, cooperation, self-confidence, and respect for the teammates. “All the children participate in the games without distinction on the basis of nationality or religious beliefs”, explained Aseel*, an ICMC social worker. “Events like these have a magical effect in relieving children from a negative atmosphere and reducing stress”.

The organizing team expressed satisfaction as to the large number of children who attended the Fun Day. Both boys and girls appeared to really enjoy the activities, and particularly the games involving water. “I am an ICMC fan!”, a little girl commented.

* The name was changed to protect the identity of the person.