The Friendly Center: A Respite From the Horrors of War

Over the past few weeks we’ve introduced you to the Friendly Center, a safe space for refugee  children, a place for them to heal and grow, to recover from trauma and be safe. We talked about how refugee camps are formed, how they’re supposed to meet the essential needs of displaced people, and how one of the most critical needs is addressing childhood trauma.

We introduced you to Areen, a brave teenager who, thanks to the Friendly Center, is finding security and hope and laughter again.

A portrait of Areen at the camp safe space. Photo by Matthew Willingham/Preemptive Love Coalition.

And Dilgash, who was isolated and kept home due to a degenerative eye disease, but now receives care from dedicated childhood development specialists. He attends the Friendly Center with his brother, where they play games and learn side by side.

We told you about Thuraya, one of the wonderful staff members of the Friendly Center, who is using her light to bring healing, hope, and joy to our small friends.

Perhaps most importantly, we shared the profound need for this Friendly Center, for childhood trauma to be met with connection and relationship, for kids and parents to know they are not alone.

The Friendly Center isn’t just a brightly-painted building for kids to play in. It’s a respite from the horrors of war. It’s a haven for the emotionally battered and broken. It’s a place where children can reclaim their identities, their security, their joy.

And we invited you to show up for our friends, to send messages of love and encouragement and solidarity. To let them know they are not alone.

But the Friendly Center is in danger of closing. The conflict in Syria and Iraq doesn’t make headlines as it once did. ISIS has withdrawn from many of the places it once controlled. And so, too, have big aid organizations, moving on to the next crisis, the next news story.

But it’s too soon for people to go home—if they even have a home to return to.

We know peace and healing start with the smallest of us, the generation that will grow up to walk our bruised and broken earth, who will illuminate our shadowed edges, who will shake off the mantle of conflict and take up hope.

But they can’t be light-bearers, they can’t be peacemakers, if they are still lost and hurting, if they are forgotten, if they don’t have people who will come alongside them and help them heal.

With your help the Friendly Center can stay open, can continue to nurture and care for the innocent and vulnerable, those shattered by war but determined to rise.