“I wish to become a famous footballer and return to my home in Syria”

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) supports the wellbeing and mental health of Palestinian children in Lebanon. In partnership with UNICEF and four local organisations- Naba'a, Najdeh, NISCVT, Tadamon- MAP brings psychosocial and mental health support to thousands of children affected by the Syria crisis. Through play therapy and counselling, the programme aims to mitigate the impact of war and displacement and protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. The programme is open to all Palestinians in Lebanon, including those displaced from Syria and those already in Lebanon.

Wafa Dakwar, MAP’s Senior Programme Officer in Lebanon, recently met with 14-year-old Palestinian refugee Majed to discuss his involvement in the programme.

Majed’s story:

"Hi. My name is Majed and I am 14 years old. I have two brothers and one sister, and my mother is pregnant, but we don’t know yet if it is a boy or a girl. I live in Burj Barajneh Camp in central Lebanon, and I am in the sixth grade in school.”

How did you hear about the project?

“I knew about the project from my friends. My mother heard about the project from our neighbours who usually come and have coffee with her in the morning. She encouraged me to attend the project’s activities as she wanted to participate in the activities for parents too. She wanted to go with her friends to benefit from the various topics discussed.”

Why did you decide to come to this project?

“I wanted to come to Najdeh’s centre to play and meet children who live in the camp. I am a refugee from Syria and, at that time, I didn’t have friends in the camp. After participating in the project’s activities, I made many friends here.”

What project activities did you participate in?

“The key activities that I like and stay in my mind are dance therapy, yoga, interactive theatre, crafts making, and life-skills building activities. I also used to like playing football in the field outside, and I enjoyed big celebrations and trips that the centre organises. I like that they allow our parents to join us for the trips.”

How has your experience of the project been?

“My experience with the project was a very nice one. I was very happy with the activities and meeting new friends. I liked the facilitator who used to smile all the time and to encourage us to work in groups and collaborate with one another.”

What did you like the most in the project and what did you like the least?

“I liked that I acquired new skills that I consider very important such as conflict resolution, communication skills, and anger management. I became more able to control my anger and to do relaxation and breathing exercises. I learned how to focus and plan for my future, how to set goals for myself, and how to solve my problems. I am more confident now and, most importantly, I have many friends- boys and girls. What I liked least was that the activity rooms are too small for all of us.”

What do you suggest we change or add for activities to be more interesting for young people like you?

“Add activities such as swimming, basketball, electronic games, and teach us how to do research for school. I also suggest conducting activities outside the centre, for example in the countryside. This will make activities more exciting.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“I wish to become a famous football player. I also wish to return to my home in Syria with my family and friends.”

 

Name changed to protect identity