A Syrian Father’s Message to The World Amidst The Bombs & Conflict
Created by Narayan Updated on Feb 20, 2020
“Is that a plane? Or is it a shell?”
“A Shell! It'll fall now, and we can laugh.”
“That's funny, right? A shell?”
Without knowing the character’s it’s easy to assume the conversation as some sinister scene involving evil people. It couldn’t be far from the truth though. This was a scene with background noises as sinister as you imagined, but the conversation is between a father and his only child.
The demon of the Syrian war is not hidden from anyone. Atrocities by many groups involved in the conflict coupled with the access to modern technology have been telecasted directly to the personal devices and drawing rooms of the world population.
Among all this dark and sorry picture of a war-torn country, the latest sound is of laughter. Not a sinister laugh of a victorious villain but a heartwarming laugh of a three-year-old, certain to put a smile on the face of anyone with an iota of warmth.
Daily air strikes and bombs prompted Syrian father Abdullah Mohammad to come up with a new way to help his 3-year-old daughter Salwa adapt to the sounds of war pic.twitter.com/qIfnqDmRJa— Reuters (@Reuters) February 18, 2020
“Its a game I evolved to help Salva overcome her fright of the airstrikes,” the father says in another video. The video of the laughter from the three-year-old Salva has evoked the conscience of millions around the world.
This video highlights one of the least addressed challenges in a crisis-hit environment - ‘development of children’. It’s easy while living in a safe environment free from the threat of life-threatening bombs and aeroplanes, to provide a positive and safe environment to our children.
But what can a parent do to keep their offspring safe from the horrors of war or in a situation of crisis? What would you do? Would you try and distract the child with games and laughter in such an environment?
What Has The Research Revealed?
Numerous studies in the field of child development have established that children achieve maximum growth in their intellectual capacity, self-esteem and mental abilities during the first five years of their lives.
Exposure to crisis situations, scars of war and such negative harsh environment can create lifelong mental blocks and fears in their minds. Psychologists working in the field with children affected by war say that, while parents lose their ability to provide proper care to the children, children may end up losing hope. Leading these kids into giving up any efforts to build a better future. Many other, exposed to violence at an early age, may come to terms with it as something normal.
Girl children have been worst hit in such an environment, as people avoid talking about them, and their gender development could be completely impaired.
Children Cope Differently With Crisis Filled Environment
Studies have also found that children have a mechanism to cope with traumatic situations in life to varying degrees. This is why many children eventually return to normal life sooner or later. Some of these factors include the following abilities in the children:
Recognize and avoid dangers,
Use adults for caretaking,
Devoting to a cause and to find meaning in the experience
Degree of social and family cohesiveness, social and shared values and beliefs also play an important role in bringing the affected children to cope with the negative experiences.
Much Needed Help Fewer Resources
It takes a lot of efforts to bring the affected children back to normal life. With so many conflicts around the world, communities increasingly need expert intervention into developing the infrastructure and understanding for a safe environment to children. The UN with the help of numerous NGOs active in the field tries to reach as many children as possible but there's always a shortage of on-ground support for the cause.
The father in the video, al-Mohammad, knows very well that very soon his little game would not be enough to keep his daughter safe from the horrors of war. Even if the conflict ended in the next few days, it will take years before they can safely return to their home and start living normal lives, with a school Slava can attend.
In the meanwhile, laughter is the best coping mechanism they have.
- Drowning out the sound of bombs with laughter in Syria's Idlib | Aljazeera English
- Children in the heat of war | Apa.org
- (PDF) Psychological Effects of War and Violence on Children | Researchgate.com
- The Invisible Trauma of War-Affected Children | Psychology Today
- Beneficial effect of laughter therapy on physiological and psychological function in elders | NCBI NIH<