Helping Children with Psycho-social Support Needs Amid COVID-19 Confinement in Turkey
Helping Children with Psycho-social Support Needs
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an extraordinary challenge to the world, bringing feelings of anxiety, stress and uncertainty — and these emotions are felt especially strongly by children of all ages. In Turkey, measures to control the outbreak have confined children indoors and, having faced school closures and separation from friends, most of them are more in need of support than ever.
In order to ensure even the most vulnerable families are able to give this support to their children, UNICEF, in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent and other national partners, and with the financial support of the US government is distributing psycho-social support kits to 50,000 Turkish and refugee families throughout Turkey. The kits target children who were formerly accessing community-based psycho-social support services and aim to help parents continue supporting their children during the confinement period.
Mustafa, 13, a Syrian child who lives with his parents and younger sister Ruba, 7, in Adana province, was one of the children who received a psycho-social support kit. When asked how he feels about staying at home during the current confinement period, he told us “staying at home makes me feel really uncomfortable, I am not used to being away from my friends, my school, I miss my normal life!”. While looking at the items he received today Mustafa continues, “I am happy we received these kits because now Ruba and me can play together and I think it will help her to learn useful things instead of always watching TV.” He looks at his younger sister and both started laughing.
Mustafa is among 150,000 refugee and Turkish children who will be reached with psycho-social support kits as part of UNICEF’s community-based child protection program, implemented in partnership with Turkish Red Crescent and other partners. The kits include writing and drawing materials, puzzles, playdough, and activity booklets in Turkish and Arabic which provide parents with exercises and games to engage their children so they can maintain previous routines and continue to support their learning and well-being at home.
Emine, 10, lives with her older sister Ayse, 26, and their parents in Adana. The first thing Emine did when she opened the kit was to start coloring using the crayons and activity booklets. When we asked her what she wants to say to other children like her, who can’t leave their homes because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, she replied “ I would say to them stay at home, explore new things to do, develop your hobbies and play games with your siblings, and don’t go out to avoid Coronavirus”. When asked about what she will do with the kit she received today, she replied “Of course I will draw and color, my crayons at home are finished and now I have new ones, so I am very happy!”.
The first phase of the psycho-social support kits distribution took place on April 23, Children’s Day in Turkey, and included the distribution of 5,000 kits to more than 2,500 households in Sanliurfa, Hatay, Adana, Mersin and Gaziantep provinces. This distribution was made possible thanks to a generous contribution from the Government of the United States of America.