Ahmed Helmy from Za’atary Camp
“Children, with their determination, creativity and ability to overcome difficulties, inspire us to live”
A flock of young children of the Seventh Sector’s school in Za’atary Camp were excited by the arrival of the superstar Ahmed Helmy, UNICEF Egypt’s Ambassador at their classroom. Helmy came especially to Jordan to visit them. He toured around spreading the spirit of jolly, talking about the young children studies, the professions they are dreaming of, and the hobbies they practice. When the star stopped by Omar, the 11-year-old boy rushed to the black board to express his talent in drawing. Omar drew a black heart split by a crack, probably reflecting on his pain for losing both his parents during the Syrian crisis which forced him to move out with his five siblings to Za’atari where he lives now with his uncle.
Helmy joined Omar at the black board and turned the crack into a beautiful green tree. He presented the colors to Omar and with a nod, invited him to set the fruits he prefers on the tree. Omar choose shiny red apples and co-signed the drawing with Helmy in a complicit glance.
Omar is one of 19 thousand displaced children who are receiving their education at the Za'atary Camp, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan erected in 2012, where 80,000 people live at present. Half of them are children, and 80 are born there every week.
Helmy was keen to have a firsthand encounter with what UNICEF and the Ministry of Education provides in schools inside the camp to help children to continue their education. Yet, the painful reality remains, as one in every five out of school children are in need of more support to return to school.
Helmy then then met with a 14-year-old boy who explained that he had been beaten by his teacher for misbehaving at class. This beating made him hate the school. Helmy assured the boy that expressing his feelings is very important, and that there are specialists at the "Makany" center who can help him overcome this challenge. He urged the boy to project his life in ten years from now, after he completes his studies, as this will allow him to become a successful person.
"Makany" [my place], inside Za’atari Camp, is one of the centers that provide psychosocial support to children through consultation, drawing and music practice. There, Helmy met with Nour, a 9-year-old girl. They crooned together accompanied by a group of young girls, a famous song from the Syrian folklore. Singing helps those children. It is an integral part of the specialized program “Mosikaty” [My music], designed to assist children at the camp.
Helmy also talked to the young girls and encouraged them to develop their talents. One day, they might have the chance to participate in his TV show “Little Stars” which he presents on one of the popular pan Arab satellite channels. Helmy also listened to social workers and experts highlighting the need for children to be protected from all violent disciplinary practices both within the family and in school.
The visit of Ambassador Ahmed Helmy left a great deal of love and joy in the hearts of the children who met him and participated in playing, drawing, reading and singing with him. It also sent an open invitation to donors and all those who can provide any form of support, including financial assistance to UNICEF, to help sustain the urgent interventions to protect these children. They represent a generation cruelly suffering from the deprivation of the homeland and from the right to live in dignity, good health, and to build a better future through education.
"Children, with their determination, creativity and ability to overcome difficulties, inspire us to live. So, let’s protect their right to live in dignity, have access to education and protection against all forms of violence. Let us help them now to make them bear the pain of being forced out of their country and the cold of the coming winter”.
Helmy concluded his visit at the Innovation Center at Al Za’atari Camp where he witnessed several creative thinking activities; among the children he met was Raghd, 13-year-old girl, who expressed her love for literature while pointing at the latest novel she was about to finish reading. Helmy told her: "One day you will write a book, so remember then to send me a copy of it".
Since the beginning of the war in Syria, UNICEF has provided support to millions of Syrian children and their families inside and outside Syrian. After more than seven years of conflict, those children are in dire need not to be forgotten.