New workbooks help Syria's children tell their story

Jordan, Lebanon, Syria

June 12, 2014

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After the toughest disasters — hurricanes, earthquakes, conflict — we implement our Comfort for Kids (C4K) program to help children process the trauma they’ve experienced.

Through writing and drawing workbook exercises, vulnerable youth tell their story, helping them envision a safe, productive and happy future for themselves despite the instability around them.

Illustrator Lina Safer helped us adapt the C4K workbook for Syrian children, drawing on the colors, sounds and details of her own childhood in Homs, Syria. Her beautiful images are now providing refugee kids in Jordan and Lebanon with a safe, familiar place to express themselves and stay connected to their culture.

Below, through Lina’s illustrations and in her own words adapted from her website, learn how Comfort for Kids is helping children from her home country cope and, ultimately, heal after losing so much in Syria's civil war.

Comfort for Kids is a workbook-based activity that is designed to help children express themselves and tell their stories. The booklets are in Arabic and each child has their own.

The children's workbook

The Comfort for Kids children’s workbook is carefully designed to help children tell their story and effectively cope with the difficulties they face in their lives after the emergency.

It guides children through a series of exercises that help them to appreciate family and friends, look at their goals and the challenges they face in reaching those goals, recognize their own resilient qualities and look forward to a time when they have achieved their goals.

The Comfort For Kids children’s workbook follows a simple approach and uses a well-studied method for helping children cope with terrible experiences like large-scale disasters and violent conflict. It encourages children to learn more about their personal and cultural history, as well as their own feelings, challenges and values.

The children’s workbook gives children a chance to be authors, illustrators and main characters in their own stories.

Having lived through conflict or natural disasters, children need the help of adults who care about them.

Proper support from adults helps children change a distressing situation into a constructive learning and coping experience, and teaches them how to set goals and overcome specific challenges in their lives.

It is important to listen to children, let them tell their stories in their own way and express their feelings. The C4K workbook helps children gain strength, resilience and learn more about their ideas and emotions about living in a conflict zone or area hit by a natural disaster.

It also focuses on encouraging children to be mindful of the present — to know that every day matters in their lives and to be excited about and invest in their future.

Facilitators' Manual

In addition to the workbook we have developed the Facilitators’ Manual. This manual guides facilitators who are working with children who have experienced distressing events such as natural disasters or conflict.

The Comfort for Kids Facilitators’ Manual defines psychosocial support and also stresses the need for facilitators to take care of themselves and ensure they are emotionally healthy enough to support the children.

It also explores the qualities that are required to work with children. The manual outlines common reactions to shocking events and the possible reactions to stress and needs of different age groups of children.

Parents' Pamphlet

Because parents and caregivers play a critical role in their children’s recovery, the C4K Parents’ Pamphlet was developed to provide semi-structured support to parents and caregivers.

The ten pamphlet modules will be introduced through Caregiver Support Groups to provide additional support to parents. The pamphlets help them understand their own stress and triggers and also how to help their children recover from disasters.