Living Life Under Terror, Fleeing War, and Displacement,
Are True Stories of Loss, Trauma & Grief—Faced By Millions Of Refugees Worldwide
ART OF HOPE works hand in hand with local partners to assess and address the psychological and emotional needs of war-torn refugees and in-need host communities through one-on-one sessions, group workshops and family intervention.
Below are three stories from three separate families supported by ART OF HOPE in Beirut's Hay Al Gharbie neighborhood in 2017. Their stories, journey, and daily struggles with trauma, PTSD, and the invisible wounds of war are strong reminders of the urgency and necessity of psychological support for Syrian refugees and war-torn individuals in vulnerable host communities worldwide.
The Housh Family
Key Findings: Loss And Trauma Is Causing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In Syrian Refugee Children.
The story of Amouna Sharekh Housh and her eight children is a journey that illustrates the long-lasting and strong consequences of sudden displacement of Syrian refugees. After fleeing Ref Halab, Amouna was forced to take her family to Camp Azaz in Lebanon, where they spent the last year in horrific conditions. They report a concerning lack of coverage for basic needs that strongly contribute to the already deteriorated mental well-being of the whole family.
After losing her husband in Syria, Amouna took her children to the Lebanese borders, where they were stopped by Islamic State Militants (ISIS) who threatened the mother to leave her children behind. This encounter particularly affected Amouna’s 9-year-old son Manar, who had a gun held to his head and is now suffering from severe PTSD. Concurrently, the other children, previously known as very peaceful and calm individuals, are in a psychologically critical condition — and thus in urgent need for the kind of care provided by ART OF HOPE.
Key Findings: Having Witnessed Killings, Loss, and Terror Have Traumatized Many Children and Adults.
After their father passed away from a heart attack, nine-year-old Amal’s mother desperately sought help from a trafficker to escape ISIS-held territories in Raqqa in hopes of saving her young daughter Amal and her son Ahmed from the terrorists and their atrocities in Syria. With the help of smugglers, and through a brutal journey, Amal and her two children fled to Lebanon. Their life in Raqqa and consecutive journey to Lebanon have left the entire family traumatized.
In particular, little Amal had witnessed unspeakable scenes that no child should ever witness while living in ISIS-controlled Raqqa. One day, when Amal went to buy some medicine and bread for her family, she was followed by an ISIS militant and could escape only by climbing a tree. She managed to remain up the tree for about 30 minutes before falling down after witnessing the same militant executing a young boy. As a result, little Amal fell from the tree, leaving her in pain and with severe cuts through her abdominal parts.
The Junid Family
Key Findings: Violent & Aggressive Behavior From Children.
The traumatized mother and her three children had to flee Syria a while ago, leaving behind their identity as farmers in a fortunate and convenient environment. Today, the family is troubled by various distressed and weakened personalities. Hani, the 11-year-old son, who previously came across as a smart and calm child in class, now displays an angry behavior targeted at his closest relatives. In addition, the 14-year-old Mohammed and his 9-year-old sister Deyaa, display signs of bullying and violent behavior; this is while they were formerly known for their calm and caring personalities. This unhealthy and dangerous development of anger, anxiety, and violence by each family member is another consequence attributable to the miserable situation they are currently facing in Lebanon after having left an already traumatizing environment back in Raqqa, Syria.
Why Should We Care?
These stories paint a picture of nothing less than a human tragedy that has and continues to affect thousands of families, individuals, and — in particular — children. As witnesses of unspeakable cruelties and suffering of their closest friends and relatives, these people are in an urgent need for psychological and mental health support. At the moment, their wounds may be invisible but in longterm the effect of trauma, PTSD, and psychological scars will be dangerous, life-hindering, and destructive to both the individual and their communities. In a perfect world, any unnecessary suffering should be eliminated. However, in the case of these children and their families elimination becomes an urgent duty for the international community and, consequently, for all of us.
At ART OF HOPE we made it our mission to help alleviate
trauma, PTSD, and mental health challenges as effectively as possible.
We are grateful for the support we have received — but there is still a lot more that needs to be done to help heal these invisible wounds.