International Children's Day: celebrating childhood
In June, displaced children in Tikrit celebrated their International Children’s Day. It was a time to reflect on their rights and freedoms in war-torn Iraq. Decorated with children’s drawings, handcrafts and balloons, each child friendly space run by Terre des hommes (Tdh) welcomed more than 300 children. Despite the ongoing fighting and displacement, children have not forgotten how to play and laugh.
Three years after ISIS took over large territories in northern Iraq, more than 3,1 million people have been displaced within their own country, approximately half of them children. In the Salah-Al-Din Governorate with Tikrit as its capital, nearly 1,2 million people require humanitarian assistance. Displaced children face a lack of protection. They are at risk of separation from their families, abduction, recruitment by armed groups, and sexual exploitation.
In order to provide psychosocial support to these children, Tdh has been running eight child friendly spaces in the Salah-Al-Din Governorate, half of them in Tikrit. The educational, sport and recreational activities organised there on a daily basis help children to cope with the hardships of their daily life and encourage their sense of safety.
Tdh teams in Tikrit organised International Children’s Day celebrations in all four child friendly spaces in the area. Children participated in different types of activities including singing, skipping rope competitions, racing, jumping, theater, and face painting. Part of the programme was dedicated to discussions about children’s rights.
“International Children’s Day was an occasion for Tdh’s child protection team to celebrate childhood and raise awareness about children’s wellbeing and rights,” says Gatienne Jobit, Tdh Child Protection and Education Manager in Tikrit.
"I love the activities you do with us, especially the painting. Thank you for making it such a party. We always have so much fun!" says Selma, a six-year-old girl, who participated in the International Children’s Day celebration with her mother and two older brothers.
Parents were also invited to the ceremony and took part in activities. “We took the opportunity of having children and their parents together. We watched cartoons about child protection related topics and discussed the rights of the child. We had a lot of fun. It is encouraging to see them all playing and laughing, despite the war. Laughing, smiling, clapping and cheering are the best ways to defeat terrorism,” says Ahmed Ayad, Tdh Child Friendly Space Supervisor.
We continue our efforts in the field to support families that are fleeing from IS with the most needed help. You, too, can contribute to this effort by doing an emergency donation.
Photo credit: ©Tdh/Peter Kaeser