At the psycho-social relief centre of SOS Children's Villages at…
I find the saddest stories we have are explaining the situation in the Sudan. There are some very sad parts to this story but I think it is important to show why it is that we, as a charity, are based in the country. This is the story of a boy, Hassan, who is twelve, and lives at the Abu Shok Refugee Camp in Al Fashir, Darfur. Hassan witnessed his father being killed two years ago, he also witnessed the ransacking of his village and the killing of other family members, neighbours and friends
At the psycho-social relief centre of SOS Children's Villages at Abu Shok, Sudan refugee camp in Al Fashir, drawing is considered a very good way for children to express themselves.
I find the saddest stories we have are explaining the situation in the Sudan. There are some very sad parts to this story but I think it is important to show why it is that we, as a charity, are based in the country. This is the story of a boy, Hassan, who is twelve, and lives at the Abu Shok Refugee Camp in Al Fashir, Darfur.
Hassan told us this story on his own free will. In order to protect his privacy, we are not using his real name and no photos depicting him are used. This is his story:
"I'm from the village of Tawila. The Janjaweed [a group of Arab militiamen] kicked us out of our village and our home." Hassan speaks slowly as he tells his story. He looks down and does not make eye contact with the listener. His face twitches with an expression of pain and sadness. His voice is low, almost an inaudible mumble.
"My father was shot in front of my eyes". Hassan skims over this part of his story. His voice is strained, and he only says that his father was shot by the soldiers. Hassan then left Tawila with his mother and brothers and sisiters.
"We rode on donkeys for many days. I don't remember how long it was, but we rode all the way to Al Fashir on the donkeys," Hassan says, "When we arrived in Al Fashir, we stayed in a large park for a long time. We didn't have a home or tent, but slept on the grass. Eventually they came and brought us here to the camp."
Hassan does not know who brought them to the camp or why they gave them shelter and food. He does remember coming to Al Fashir, and then moving to the refugee camp. At the refugee camp, like most families, they were given a tent to stay in and eventually built their own thatch-roofed mud-hut.
For many months, Hassan suffered from nightmares and phobias. He showed clear signs and symptoms of depression. His mother heard of and wanted her son to come to the psycho-social relief centre at the SOS refugee camp (which makes up one part of the SOS Emergency Relief Programme Darfur).
"The first thing we do is give the child paper and colours and ask him or her to make a drawing," Rasha, one of the psychologists working at the centre says. "Most of the children have no idea what's wrong with them and can't express themselves through speech. Afterwards we ask them about the drawing; this way we get them to tell their story."
With constant care and attention, Hassan started to tell his story to the psychologists at the centre. He often broke into tears when telling about the more difficult parts of their journey to Al Fashir. Hassan complained of severe headaches at the beginning of the sessions. Gradually the frequency of the headaches decreased.
Today, Hassan is back at school. However, he is still far from being completely well. The experiences he has had and their effect will stay with him for the rest of his life. The psycho-social relief centre of SOS Children's Villages is helping him live a normal life, but it will take a very long time for him to heal.
Recognition from the UN for SOS Children's Villages' post-tsunami reconstruction
When selecting these photographs for this website I'm looking for details of everyday life, like here in this photograph of beautiful fabric of an SOS mother's dress. It is quite nice to contrast this with the large scale effects that SOS had helping those affected by the Tsunami of 2004. In November 2008, in its latest newsletter the UN Office was an items that emphasized the quality of the relief efforts of SOS Children's Villages. In particular the UN were impressed with the SOS Children's Village in Meulaboh.
The newsletter was titled "A better life in the Meulaboh Children's Village" and describes the atmosphere and the life in the village: "This family based care allows the children to live as a family, in an environment where they will be secure, supported, and loved."
Two years ago SOS Children's Villages had already earned rave reviews in a research project commissioned by the UN, which closely examined the reconstruction work of various relief organisations in Indonesia. AUSAID, the relief programme of the Australian government also came to the conclusion that SOS Children's Villages carried out its projects and programmes in Banda Aceh in a particularly well, i.e. in direct cooperation with the communities and the people affected.
SOS Children's Villages took immediate action after the tsunami on 26 December 2004 in Aceh, the region that was most seriously affected. One part of the long-term support was the construction of three SOS Children's Villages - in the capital Banda Aceh, in Meulaboh and in Medan. In addition, numerous other projects were implemented for the benefit of those affected; for instance, 521 family houses, several multipurpose buildings and nurseries were built.
"After the tsunami we had no medical care in our village. Even minor illnesses had to be treated in the city. When the clinic was finally opened last year, we were really relieved", says Bushtani, a tsunami survivor from the village Suak Raya. Here SOS Children's Villages has built a medical centre which was handed over to the community in August this year - a project that is having a great impact.