War produces many casualties and in the chaos of it all, children are abandoned, murdered, wounded, and abused. They’re often lumped into war with no real understanding of why it’s happening, a question we often ask ourselves when different nations and races meet with brutality and the intent to destroy. The victims of war are these families, people like you and I who planned to live their lives in peace, and so, to escape from the terror they are either forced to leave or are lucky enough to do so before bullets greet their front door.
Refugee camps are littered across the globe, in a UN Refugee Agency report from June 2017, for example, they determined that “An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of who are under the age of 18.” This means that children now make up more than half of the world’s refugees.
“Though many communities and people around the world have welcomed refugee and migrant children, xenophobia, discrimination, and exclusion pose serious threats to their lives and futures,” said Unicef’s executive director, Anthony Lake. “But if young refugees are accepted and protected today, if they have the chance to learn and grow, and to develop their potential, they can be a source of stability and economic progress.”
This information is important to be aware of so that we can all understand the magnitude of this crisis, but to also recognize that every child has the ability to change the outcome of all of our futures. Imagine if they were given the necessary tools and not distracted, or perhaps made stronger, by lack of what we consider daily luxuries like food, clothes, shelter and basic care. Refugee camps do provide schooling but, “Of the 17.2 million refugees under our care, 6.4 million are of school-going age between 5 and 17. Their access to education is limited, with 3.5 million unable to attend school.”
According to the UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR):
Education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Education protects refugee children and youth from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labour, sexual exploitation and child marriage. Education also strengthens community resilience.
Education empowers by giving refugees the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives.
Education enlightens refugees, enabling them to learn about themselves and the world around them, while striving to rebuild their lives and communities.
So what about Play?
The Flying Seagull Project is a troupe of clowns, magicians, circus performers, musicians and ‘play specialists’ who work with children in refugee camps across Europe. There mission?
To make the arts accessible to all.
To enhance the lives of underprivileged children through creative activities.
To challenge and improve the use of music and sensory activities for people with disabilities in Romania and elsewhere.
To create opportunities for communities to celebrate.
To help create positive memories.
They work to fill the void in the national education system by running theatre and creative sessions in school. They help to provide materials to the schools who may need to continue these activities after we leave. BBC Three decided to feature the Flying Seagull Project in their show, Amazing Humans.
We can learn so much from a child, especially our own or ones we interact with daily as they become mirrors of us. They show us exactly where our faults lie and can embody our problems which we have to eventually face head on. When we work on ourselves, it’s important to have an approach similar to how we discipline and interact with a child. We must ensure that we are kind, patient and honest. Our conflict resolutions are tested when we are met with a child whose behaviour we can’t quite ‘control’ and so it’s no wonder that the true victims of war are children; they symbolize the difficulty each and everyone of us have in regards to expressing ourselves properly in order to resolve a conflict in a way where both parties are fully understood. We must meet each other half way, we must speak from our hearts in a voice of compassion, and we must desire to find peace by practicing kindness, understanding and patience.
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