The psychological and emotional toll of earthquakes on families and children can be profound, leaving them grappling with fear, worry, stress, and sadness. The jarring sounds and intense vibrations associated with seismic activity can trigger feelings of terror and panic, creating a sense of helplessness, vulnerability, and instability. Particularly vulnerable are children, who undergo abrupt changes in their lives, such as the loss of family, homes, and friends. The journey of adapting to new environments can be arduous and time-consuming for them.
In light of these psychological effects, Suleiman Suleiman, coordinator of the Ahlan Sesame project, illuminates strategies to address them and guide children and families toward regaining serenity, peace of mind, and the ability to resume a healthy life. He highlights the implementation of the “Be Ready, Be Strong” program by WATAN, aimed at contributing to the humanitarian response to the challenging circumstances and human disasters in Turkey and Syria. These program sessions offer social and psychological support activities for families affected by these events, encompassing parents, caregivers, and children. Additionally, they provide assistance in identifying and managing intense emotions and stress resulting from them.
A key objective of the program is to guide parents and children toward various media tools that restore a sense of safety. Furthermore, the program facilitates the creation of a supportive environment for families by fostering connections with individuals who have experienced similar circumstances, allowing for the exchange of support. Notably, the program has achieved significant outreach, directly engaging with 48 caregivers and their children through in-person sessions in May. Moreover, through home visits, an additional 200 caregivers and approximately 600 children have indirectly benefited from these initiatives.
Interactive sessions are conducted with children and caregivers within specially equipped caravans to deliver these vital services. These mobile units are equipped with educational and entertainment resources to provide a comprehensive experience. To ensure inclusivity, both male and female teams are present. Additionally, caregivers and their children are provided with stimulating home activities. The program spans fifteen sessions over a month and a half for caregivers, incorporating sixty engaging activities for children.
In 2022, the Ahlan Sesame project in northwest Syria achieved significant milestones. Through the Families and Home Visits program, 2850 caregivers directly benefited from impactful sessions, while an additional 780 caregivers received indirect support through WhatsApp groups, fostering invaluable parenting assistance. The Friends of Ahlan Sesame program positively influenced the development of 804 children through engaging initiatives. Moreover, 6,158 children indirectly experienced the project’s impact through their caregivers, contributing to their holistic early childhood development.
As we move forward, we hope this meaningful and influential work continues to enhance the lives of children and families in northwest Syria. Expanding the reach of these initiatives to encompass more regions and communities remains a priority. We sincerely thank our partners, donors, and participating organizations for their invaluable contributions and collaboration. We emphasize the significance of collective efforts and cooperation in achieving sustainable development and improving the well-being of local communities.