The Refugee Child Who Wants to Rescue People From Their Pain

“Before the war, it was safe. Syria was a beautiful country. People were so kind. The war destroyed everything.”

We hear this again and again from our refugee friends. Syria was a beautiful land, full of opportunity and hope, full of bright and kind people.

And then came war. Confronted with unspeakable violence, families had to flee. Shela’s family was no different.

Shela is three. She’s never known Syria; her family fled in 2014, before she was born.

Shela’s family came to live in a refugee camp in Iraq, the same camp where the Friendly Center is located, a place where refugee kids can come for therapeutic play. Shela’s mother teaches at a school next to the center.

Shela wants to be a doctor when she grows up, so she can “rescue people from their pain.”

From the start, Shela was in love with the Friendly Center. She begged and begged her parents to let her attend. But there was a problem. She was too young, much younger than all the other children here.

We believe in listening to those we serve—their needs, their dreams. And that includes the littlest members of the communities we serve in. Last fall, you helped expand the Friendly Center to provide a space for younger ages, for kids like Shela.

Shela loves everything about the Friendly Center. She loves to write on the board, to play make-believe, to dance, to read and learn.

Since attending the Friendly Center, Shela’s parents have seen a change in her behavior at home. She’s more engaged in everyday routines, such as washing her hands and brushing her teeth. She’s gaining the courage to talk to others and has become much more social. Shela learned the alphabet and quickly picks up words, numbers, counting, colors, and shapes.

Shela loves to play dress-up and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Photo by Shadyar Ali.

Shela wants to be a doctor when she grows up, so she can “rescue people from their pain.”

Shela’s father worries about her future as a refugee child. If she can’t return to Syria someday, he wants her to go to any other country where she could have a life of opportunity.

Whatever her future may hold, the Friendly Center is giving her what she needs to face it—and thrive.

“The center is very useful for the children,” Shela’s dad says. “They spend good time learning, having fun, and communicating.”

You are helping remake Shela’s future, where her dreams of becoming a doctor don’t have to stay in her imagination.

Donate now and help shape a new future for refugee children.