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Child friendly activities help children affected by conflict in Yemen stay in school

UNICEF Yemen/2018/Al Romaim
© UNICEF Yemen/2018/Al Romaim
Children play at Al Samawi School as part of psychosocial support.

By Najwa Al Romaim

Sana’a, 22 January 2018 - The conflict in Yemen- now into its third year- continues with significant impact on children’s psychosocial well-being and development. Children are experiencing what no child should have to; exposure to violence, disaster, loss of friends and relatives, or separation from family members and friends and lack of access to education service.

More than 2000 schools remain closed across Yemen due to the conflict. They have either been damaged or vacated due to violence and insecurity. Those that are open started the school term quite late.

On 11 November 2017, the Al Samawi school in Sana’a was shaken when a bomb landed nearby. The school has nearly 900 students.

Lina Al- Nuzili is 10 years old and a 5th grader student in Al Samawi School was in class when the bombing near her school happened. “My feet were frozen and could not move, my eyes were closed”. She recounts horrible memories of seeing blood spilled and body parts spread all over.

“I didn’t want to go to school again after that” she said. She changed her mind after two days only. A friend came and told her about the new activities in her school. A programme to help the children over the horrors and pain had started. The children spent time painting, playing and sharing stories among themselves. The stories of hope created excitement and strengthen the dream to succeed in the face of adversity. 

UNICEF Yemen/2018/Al Romaim
© UNICEF Yemen/2018/Al Romaim
Noor with her school bag.

Noor Al-Gharbani, 12 years old and also in 5th grade was one of those caught in the horrific events of the day. The bomb didn’t only shake her physically but mentally. Luckily she escaped alive. When I returned home, I lost my consciousness. My mom told me I was speaking while asleep saying, “I am going to die, and I don’t want to go to school”.

Noor heard about the school re-opening but was not really excited to go especially after the incident. Her classmates came home and told her about the psychosocial support activities they had in school then she decided to go. “I was scared when I was on my way to school but when I saw the activities and participated in painting, games and received a nice doll and chocolate UNICEF bag, all the bad memories disappeared from my mind. “Now, I love school”.

Ghaida Abdulsalam Al-Jabri, in 6th grade lives with her parents and older sister. Ghaida said she was so terrified and worried that she would die and not see her family again when the bombing was going on. It took her time to recover and return to the school.

Lina, Ghaida and Noor part of over 267,000 students who have received Psychosocial support to help them overcome the worst effects of the violence and conflict in Yemen. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF in cooperation with education stories is providing training to over 2000 teachers and social workers on crucial psychosocial support for children during emergency situations to help them overcome such difficult experiences. These efforts include culturally and age appropriate, safe and stimulating activities such as sports and games to develop life skills and coping mechanisms, and support resiliency.



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