Syrian refugee children were excited as they received ShelterBox stationery packs at the school at Domiz refugee camp in Iraq Kurdistan last week.
There are thousands of children amongst the 20,000 refugees living at the camp having fled the escalating violence in Syria. Many attend the school on the outskirts of the camp, which is run by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for over 1,300 students.
When each student registers at the school, they receive stationery distributed by Kurdish organization Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF). With more children arriving, they were running out of supplies. ShelterBox therefore sent 16 SchoolBoxes, packed full of school packs for a total of 800 pupils.
‘It was amazing seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when we gave them a school stationery bag – they were so excited!’ said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Rebecca Novell (UK). ‘You can see the hardships they have faced and the sadness in their eyes, as they have had to leave everything behind in their homes. Being able to provide them with colouring pencils, chalk, a small chalkboard, pens, maths kit and a notebook really does bring them happiness and a new sense of hope.’
Syrian refugee children in a classroom at the UNICEF school at Domiz refugee camp after receiving ShelterBox activity packs, Iraq Kurdistan, November 2012.
The 60 or so teachers at the school are also refugees at Domiz camp, who had to leave their lives and teaching jobs in Syria to seek safety.
Ahmed is a teacher from Syria’s Qamshli who had to leave his home with his family to avoid Syrian army conscription. He teaches maths at the school:
‘We arrived here about two months ago as where my family and I were living was getting too violent. I didn’t want my children to be exposed to it. When we arrived here, I applied for a teaching job at the school. I had to do an examination, which I passed, and now I am really lucky and happy to be teaching here and helping these children.’
Another school is being built for 600 children where the rest of the SchoolBoxes will be distributed to help meet the school’s stationery needs.
Meanwhile, 500 winterised ShelterBoxes have been distributed to families in need at the camp. The boxes contain a tent, thermal liner, groundsheets, blankets, solar lamps and water filters, bringing families shelter, warmth and dignity for the duration of the coming winter months.