If only my kite could take me back home to Syria

Fleeing from killing and war, the refugee children have very few toys with them. Toys were left at home in Syria.

Kites are integral to spring in the Middle East. They’re everywhere in different shapes and colours. 440 children in the Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps received their own kites when Finn Church Aid organised kite workshops at both camps in the span of two weeks. The jarring, prospectless everyday life of a refugee was set aside for a moment as the colourful kites flew high above the camps.

“I am so happy”, said Khalil, who was flying his kite above the FCA compound.

“If only my kite could take me back home to Syria and there would be peace.”

Khalili’s friend Walid is also all smiles.

“It’s wonderful to fly my own kite! I couldn’t remember how fun this was!”

FCA workshop at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan brought lots of joy to Syrian children.

FCA workshop at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan brought lots of joy to Syrian children.

The fathers of some children had volunteered to build kites. Laths were nailed together into frames and then plastics were suspended on the frames. Painters gave the kites a final, colourful touch.

“This is the first time the kids have been able to fly kites since leaving Syria. It is sure to take their mind off of the gloominess of life as a refugee”, said Mohammed, who put together hundreds of kites.

Little Ahmad waited patiently in line for his turn to get a kite. When he finally got the colourful toy in his hands he sprung onto the sand yelling “I feel free!” at the top of his lungs.

Volunteers built kites for children at Azraq refugee camp.

Volunteers built kites for children at Azraq refugee camp.

Second grader Hamad pushed his friend Ahmed in a wheelchair in the soft sand. It was hard work but worth the effort on this special occasion. When the boys got their hands on a pair of kites, all signs of fatigue were instantly washed away as they just admired their colourful kites.

This wasn’t the first time Hamad had helped his friend Ahmed, Hamad pushes his friend to school and around the camp every day. The boys are inseparable. True friends help each other no matter how hard it is, seems to be the idea.

And when the boys finally got to fly their kites, Ahmed’s wheelchair was thoroughly put through its paces. Ahmed was very shy in explaining to us foreigners: “I wish I too could fly on my new kite back home, I wouldn’t even need a wheelchair!”

Volunteers building kites here on the football pitch of Zaatari refugee camp. This major event would not have been possible without their help.

Volunteers building kites here on the football pitch of Zaatari refugee camp. This major event would not have been possible without their help.

An estimated 55% of Syrian refugees are under 18 years old. The future of Syria lies in children and youth, but do they have a future in Syria?

“I hope everything will go back to normal soon and we can go back to Syria”, said young Asma, smiling, yet wistful.

Everyone’s dreams and prayers seemed to share that wish as the kites soared to the sky.

The refugee situation in Jordan in April-May 2016

There are 638,633 registered Syrian refugees living in Jordan. However, the actual number of refugees in the country is estimated at 1.4 million. Finn Church Aid is working in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps and the surrounding host communities.

Azraq
30,059 refugees
57% children
21% under 5 years old
An average of 22 new-borns a week
3,000 children attending primary and secondary school

Zaatari
79,551 refugees
57% young people
19.9% under 5 years old
An average of 80 new-borns a week
20,771 children attending primary and secondary school

Source: UNHCR

Olli Pitkänen
Regional Programme Manager, the Middle East

Olli Pitkänen

Writer

Olli Pitkänen