From the youth of Aleppo to its children; hand-knitted warmth to face the harsh winter

In Aleppo, 120 girls and boys decided to literally take matters into their own hands.

UNICEF
a girl near destruction
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
31 January 2019

Aleppo, Syria, 28 January 2019- As temperatures drop, thousands of families across Syria are left with nothing to fend off against the cold. A harsh winter has added to their vulnerability after years of displacement, violence, depletion of financial resources and loss of livelihoods, leaving them unable to provide their children’s most basic needs, including for winter clothes.

In Aleppo, 120 girls and boys decided to literally take matters into their own hands.

Through a UNICEF-supported and youth-led initiative, Dafa, or “warmth”, young people aged 15 to 24 who had attended knitting and sewing courses provided by UNICEF, came together to make woolen hats, scarves and gloves for vulnerable children in Aleppo. The group was able to make 400 sets and bought 150 more to distribute to 550 children in three neighborhoods on the outskirts of Aleppo, where families have been returning after years of displacement amidst basic conditions and lack of services. 

“People here don’t have running water or electricity,” says Marwa, 19, who is one of the volunteers behind Dafa.

“Families have covered the remaining skeletons of their houses with plastic sheets and metal plates to fend off against the cold. All they have for warmth is a few wood logs they burn to protect their children,”

Marwa
a girl
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
“I will wear the hat and scarf when I walk to school to protect myself from the strong wind” says Alma, 10, after receiving her new hand-knitted set, through Dafa, a youth-led initiative. Every day, Alma and her twin sister Tayma walk for 20 minutes to school in the freezing weather in Hindarat Camp neighbourhood on the outskirts of Aleppo.

Before they started knitting, Marwa and her excited peers made a quick assessment determine the number of children they can reach. One of the benefitting neighborhoods is Hindarat camp, where Marwa was born and brought up.

“I’m very sad to see my neighbourhood completely destroyed and families having to live in the most basic conditions, we had to do something to help them.”

Marwa

For three weeks, volunteers worked long hours to get the winter kits to children as quickly as possible. The colorful woolen kits were then distributed to their new owners through door-to-door visits.

Marwa dressed up in a Mickey Mouse costume to put a smile on children’s faces.

child receiving a gift
UNICEF/Syria2019/Khudr Al-Issa
“I love the hat the most because it warms my ears when I play outside with my brothers,” says Nour, 6, after receiving her new hand-knitted set, through Dafa, a youth-led initiative in Hindarat Camp neighbourhood of Aleppo city.

“I loved the children’s reactions while they tried on their new winter kits, they were so funny yet emotional. I will forever cherish these memories,”

Marwa

Supported by UNICEF, the young people behind Dafa have also benefitted of life skills sessions, vocational training, sports for development and entrepreneurship training and opportunities. They also regularly take part in initiatives to serve their communities.