This feels like my home now

There is an entire world that exists in Sana's small room in Banja Koviljaca.

Vladimir Banic
Sana, 10 years old, is from Afghanistan.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Vas

14 August 2017

Ten year old Sana has two brothers, a father and mother who love her very much. She is their firstborn.

She is bright and shy.

Sana has a knack for languages; she speaks English, and is currently learning Serbian.

Maybe she would never have learnt Serbian if she hadn't fled Afghanistan with her family. She has been in Serbia for more than a year.

The family lives in a small room in the Reception Centre for Refugees and Migrants in Banja Koviljaca, in western Serbia.

Her parents exchanged Kabul, and the parks where Sana used to play as a child, for a foreign country for one single reason – they wanted Sana to finish school and give her the opportunity to realise her dreams.

At the age of six, Sana already knew she wanted to be a doctor, and now, four years later – she is not giving up on that dream.

Her father and mother enrolled her into a school in Kabul. However, they were scared by the threats they received.

And they packed their bags and headed into the unknown with three children. In search of a brighter future for the children.

There is an entire world that exists in their small room in Banja Koviljaca. While her mother is cooking lunch, one brother is having fun with his phone, and the other is playing with their dad.

Sana is studying, she doesn’t want to give up on her dreams. She is fighting for them.

Sana is studying Serbian in her room.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Vas
Sana is studying Serbian in her room.

"It's not hard for us, although we live in a small room. The problem is that I have no space for playing. I miss Afghanistan."

Sana (10)

"It's not hard for us, although live in a small room. The problem is that I have no space for playing. I miss Afghanistan," says Sana.

Like Sana, the other children staying in this Centre spend most of their free time indoors.

It’s summer, and many of them could use this time before school starts to play. However, they spend their days bored - going from breakfast to lunch to dinner...

However, one day just before lunch, the Centre’s employees started assembling something. Something very colourful.

Bolt by bolt, piece by piece, and the children were surprised to see how a real, brand new, children's playground was coming together right before their eyes.

Children enjoying the new playground in Banja Koviljaca.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Vas
Children enjoying the new playground in Banja Koviljaca.
The children are enjoying the new playground in Banja Koviljaca.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Vas
The children are enjoying the new playground in Banja Koviljaca.

Many didn't wait for the last swing to be assembled; they were already going down the slide, taking turns on the seesaw, while the youngest children ran into the playhouse.

There was no end to the surprises. In addition to the children's playground, they also received new summer shoes and clothes.

The usually lazy, summertime quiet was now replaced by joyful children’s noises.

The parents watched their children taking turns on the equipment in the playground, for the moment, at least, forgetting their worries.

The entire Centre suddenly came alive.

Children receiving new summer shoes and clothes.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Vas

In addition to the children's playground, they also received new summer shoes and clothes.

Sana was finishing her maths exercises when she heard the cheerful shouts coming from the yard. She went out and saw the playground.

"This feels like my home now," she said, more to herself, and she ran towards the seesaw with her friend Fatima.

 

Thanks to the generous donation from the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNICEF provided summer shoes and clothes, and playground equipment for children staying in the Reception Centres for Refugees and Migrants in Serbia.