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"When there were planes in the sky, we didn't go to school"


Sondos is 8 years old and comes from a besieged area in the suburbs of Damascus. In 2016, she and her family were the victims of bombing. Still traumatised by what she has been though, she now lives as a refugee in Lebanon where she receives psychological support from Handicap International.

Refugee with her parents in Lebanon, Sondos is accompanied by a team of Handicap International in the framework of psychosocial support sessions. | © P.Poulpiquet/Handicap International

In a small apartment in a Lebanese village, four little girls are squatted down on a rug. They are playing with playdough, chatting away happily to two members of Handicap International's team. At first glance, there is no sign that Sondos and her sisters are any different from any other children of the same age. The 8-year old is modelling a house. Christelle, a psychologist, explains, "Although it looks like they're just playing, it's actually much more than that. It allows the girls to symbolically rebuild everything they have lost and to talk to us about what has happened to them."

Sondos and her sisters arrived in Lebanon at the end of 2016, they are still deeply affected by what they went through in Syria. Their house was bombed and many members of their family were injured. That day, Sondos' leg was fractured by shrapnel. "They have a lot of nightmares and all suffer from enuresis. We are helping them to recover, through a range of fun activities, adapted to children," adds Christelle.

Sondos also talks to Christelle about the other bombing raids she witnessed in Syria. "When there were planes in the sky, we didn't go to school. We were afraid and stayed at home. I remember one day the planes appeared later than usual. The school just opposite mine was bombed." The little girl holds her teddy bear tightly in her arms and continues, "Even though I miss my country very much, here at least there are no planes, and I'm not frightened of going to school."

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