Over 200 refugee children receive education and experience fun and joy
The children’s center in northern Iraq, supported by the international Christian relief organization Shelter Now, is getting more and more visitors and wants to expand. The “Child Center” started in a refugee camp near the city of Baadre five years ago with 60 children – in the meantime, 200 to 250 girls and boys come to the educational programs, creative leisure activities, sports and games. The camp is home to thousands of Yazidis who fled the terror of IS militias in the Sinjar region to the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in 2014.
In the beginning, only orphans attended the center, which worked according to the principles of Montessori education. Meanwhile, many younger children have already been born in the camp. “They know nothing but life in the camp,” describes German Shelter Now director Udo Stolte. For all the little guests, the children’s center, which is run by a local church congregation in cooperation with Shelter Now, means therapy, healing and education and, above all, fun and joy, Stolte said.
Seven Yazidi teachers provide the girls and boys between the ages of four and 14 with additional courses to the regular school lessons at the camp, which, according to Stolte, tend to be based on minimum standards. In the “Child Center”, for example, the children learn Arabic and English, practice on the computer, and are active in music, sports or art. “But attention is also given to physical and mental health, hygiene, the need for clothing or school supplies, and last but not least, learning social skills,” explains the Shelter Now director.
Due to the large crowds, the center’s staff had to divide the crowd of children into two groups, who are now only allowed to come in alternating weeks. “We need more space,” says Helen, the director. Two or three new rooms, plus a children’s playground, a soccer pitch and more staff – that’s what the director has in mind. In addition, Shelter Now would like to realize a community center between the city of Baadre and the camp, also for young people and families – with a children’s playground, sports field, climbing wall and inline skating course. Refugees living in the city should also be able to meet here for group activities.
Brunswick, June 22, 2023
Shelter Now is an international relief organization with a coordination office in Germany. It was active in Pakistan from 1983 to 2016. Work began in 1988 in Afghanistan and in 2014 in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan (Northern Iraq). The name of the organization in Germany is “Shelter Now Germany e.V.”. Shelter Now finances its relief efforts to a large extent from private donations. Shelter Now’s efficient and project-related use of funds is certified by the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) with the donation seal.