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s2smodern

Rama, a thirteen year old girl, is typical of so many other children her age and below, who belong to what is regarded as a “lost generation”. These children have been living in the midst of violence; their daily bread is ‘suffering’ having to flee from one place to another seeking safety and security.

Deprived of their childhood, they tend to become reclusive and aggressive; shunning the normal spontaneity of children who are brought up in a different environment.

Rama’s story is painful: she was born and brought up in the old city of Homs. The escalating violence forced the family (Rama, her parents and two sisters, one younger and another older) to flee. They lived in Darayya in rural Damascus, in Wadi Barada (in the one room tenement of their grandfather) and in many other places: fugitives in fear.

When things got a bit better in Homs they decided to return ‘home’ only to find as Rama says, “We had to move at least twenty times from one place to another. When we finally returned to our ‘original home’ it had been completely burned down and destroyed ". But they had absolutely no choice; the family just went back to live in it. The condition of their house is absolutely pathetic: there are no doors or windows; no access to electricity or water. The neighbourhood is abandoned.

To add to their misery, Rama’s father is still unemployed and the family finds it extremely difficult to make both ends meet. A major concern for Rama’s mother was the education of her three daughters. The war had interrupted their schooling. The continual suffering impacted on Rama very negatively: she started becoming violent and withdrawn; she hardly smiled or interacted with others.

The JRS Centre in the Old City however became a refuge of hope.

Their mother enrolled Rama and another of her daughters there. It was difficult for Rama at the beginning: she refused to mix with others; she was a lost child who preferred isolation to other children. The social worker and the animators gradually and gently reached out to her. The child protection programme and the other activities were also instrumental in helping Rama regain her self-esteem.

Love and laughter came back to her life. On her transformation Rama says, “We have suffered much and also discriminated against in the schools; here at the JRS Centre everyone is our brothers and sister. They love us and we love them all”.

Rama’s mother is unable to hide her joy and gratitude to the animators for all that they have done for Rama and the elder daughter who able to pass her exam in spite of having partial vision. “All what we ask is the safety of our children; you at JRS have provided it; you have warmly welcomed us; you have accompanied us”, she says very effusively and she continues, “above all, you have returned to me my Rama the lovely girl that I used to know”.

As for Rama she dreams of a bright future. Her joy and laughter is contagious: no one can ever miss today that sound of hope in the activities in which Rama participates in! Rama symbolizes the return of hope!

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s2smodern