In mid-January I headed to the Turkish-Syrian border to visit the Kilis Container Camp for Syrian refugees, where I had the pleasure of meeting children who had fled the war with their families. I got to report on the things they’re doing to lead regular lives for Deustche Welle radio’s World in Progress, which you can listen to by clicking the play button above or here.
I also got to publish a slideshow about their daily lives at the camp. You can see that here.
While their parents talked about the trauma they experienced, the children didn’t really let on they’d been through a lot. The war’s affects are more subtle in kids, but when you start recognizing the signs, your heart can’t help but ache. The kids I met were a lot more grown up than they should have been. I saw 8-year-olds carrying babies as if they were nannies or parents. Kids in their tweens and teens were selling clothes and tea to make a little extra cash. One 15-year-old was a barber. I met a 16-year-old soldier.
I don’t think it infringes upon objectivity to say that it’s saddening to see a child’s innocence as a casualty of war. Kids shouldn’t know what death and bloodshed look like (ideally, no one should), but Syria’s kids do. Perhaps just as unfortunate is the fact that just because kids don’t process grief and fear the way adults do, we think that they’re not really aware of what’s going on.
As one mother told me, “We [adults] cry, we scream, we curse the dictator and we beg God…Kids don’t do that. They stay quiet, and we think they don’t know what’s happening. But they do, and it comes out in other ways.”