Adda Williana and the syllable WI

Child-friendly spaces in times of COVID-19

UNICEF Colombia
20 May 2020
Adda Williana y la sílaba WI

Adda Williana is 3 years old and like her three sisters and a 11-year-old brother, their names begin with the syllable WI in honor of their father William, the father who changes voices every time a new character appears in the stories that he reads to her children. Together with his family, they arrived in Arauca in August 2019 from the Aragua state in Venezuela, which is more than 16 hours from the Araucanian capital.

Upon arrival in Colombia, her father sold lemons and recycled to obtain resources and pay for the place where they lived. Visiting Arauca every day, William visited a UNICEF’s child-friendly space, a place where migrant children receive psychosocial support through games and playful activities that allow them to manage their emotions. So, he decided to take his wife and children while he went out to work.

Since September 2019, Adda, her mother, her sisters and brother attend this space every day from very early. They play, learn and laugh while sharing in community. At noon, they walk to the dining room of the World Food Program (WFP) and in the afternoon they return to the child-friendly space to share with their friends.

The first day Adda arrived in the child-friendly space, she was scared and would not let go of her mom's hand. There were many boys and girls, including many of those she had seen in the dining room.

Adda looked at the colors, the teachers and the games as she slowly got involved in that place where they received them with love and smiles.

Adda her sisters and brother had never attended such a place and really like it because they have fun playing, although they miss going back to school to learn and fulfill their dreams. Thanks to the help of their teachers, her older sisters and brother resumed their studies at the Santafé school and now, they attend it every day.

Adda's favorite activity is for her dad to read stories to her, although she likes the way Professor Merly reads them, so her father had to learn to change voices every time a new character appears in stories. For Adda, William is the most representative figure, he cares for her, teaches and gives her love. He draws pictures on sheets of paper for her to color, improving her motor skills and exploring her creativity and imagination.

UNICEF’s child-friendly space gave her mother peace of mind, considering it a protective space where Adda and her other children can be free without being exposed to any risk, since she has known of many violence and abuse situations that other migrant children have experienced.

In the context of the COVID-19 emergency, the child-friendly space team communicates to share activities and tasks with Adda and her parents through calls or WhatsApp. At the beginning of the lockdown, it was difficult for Adda to understand why the child-friendly space was closed and why they could not go out, but thanks to the support provided by the teachers, she now knows what COVID-19 is and knows how to properly wash her hands to prevent it. In addition, she participates in all the games and her parents share videos where she is dancing, painting and singing her name with the syllable WI.

UNICEF is working with communities, institutions and partners to prevent and stop the transmission of COVID-19 and minimize the social and economic repercussions it may have on children and their families.