We often hear that a book can change your life. The right book, in the right hands, can change many lives. We were recently reminded of that fact when we were contacted about our book, Making It Better: Activities for Children Living in a Stressful World by Barbara Oehlberg.
This book has helped teachers and students across the country, but we were touched by the story that came to us about this book’s journey to a place far away from the normal classroom. A place where children and their families have been displaced from their homes. Where violence surrounds them and their country is in collapse. A country that has been at war for years—Syria.
Beryl Cheal, CEO of Disaster Training International and a former teacher and author that we have had the pleasure of working with in the past, recently traveled to Jordan as part of her volunteer work with Salaam Cultural Museum, where she worked with young refugees who have escaped Syria.She knows “that children are some of the most vulnerable groups in war and the trauma they experience can affect their physical and mental health for the rest of their lives.” The children in thse photos have survived not only war and violence, but also the trauma of fleeing their homes and living as a refugee. Play Therapy programs are designed to help these amazing young survivors heal.
In such places as in these photos, there are still those that hold out hope for a bright future and see the children as the key to that path. Syria Bright Future is one of those organizations, and through Beryl they contacted us about using Making It Better as part of their program to help the youngest survivors of war heal using play therapy.This amazing group of people working with Seattle Cultural Museum, Syria Bright Future are working in the refugee camps of Syria and the surrounding areas. They work directly with the survivors and are training others to do this work, including psychological first aid, building effective communication skills, and support groups for stress management and mental well-being. As Beryl experienced first hand, “a children’s center provides noisy and quiet games and activities that will help children relieve their stress; grieve losses they may have experienced; learn to identify and express their emotions in a safe place; develop and practice creative problem solving and conflict resolution skills; practice being adults; create images which they can destroy and rebuild again; or create stories with happy endings. The basic philosophy of a program is that children can heal through play.” Experts, such as Beryl Cheal, who work with trauma victims “know that when traumatized children receive appropriate services and caring, they can heal.” The work being done by Syria Bright Future, Seattle Cultural Museum, and other organizations will help these children adapt to the difficult circumstances they are facing and thrive to create a brighter future for themselves and Syria.
One book has made but a small difference. What the team needs now are more resources and the most up-to-date materials for working with children facing trauma. If you have any recommendations, please contact us and we will be sure to pass the information on to the teams we have met.