The Journey of Halima brings child refugees together at Kavala
In the Land of the Sun, Halima is summoned by her country’s leader and told to head for the Land of Rain, to help end the drought which is harming the country and its people.
So begins The Journey of Halima, a book which received its first ‘performance’ at Kavala Refugee Camp, Greece, thanks to the work and support of Doctors of the World (DotW).
DotW is the only humanitarian organisation which has been working every weekday at the camp in North-Eastern Greece since it opened, and continues to play an active part in protecting and promoting the mental, as well as physical health of the men, women and children who live there.
DotW Community Mediator Zoi Xynidou, commented: ‘This book has been written for children who are refugees, by a Greek author. We saw it and really liked it, so we wanted to make an event where it could be read.’
The book, by Nikos Kalaitzides, draws on Syrian folk tales and myths, and narrates Halima’s journey through a number of unnamed but, to Turkish and European readers, familiar states until she reaches the Land of Rain, far to the north and west of the Land of the Sun.
At Kavala, it was read to the children by Omaya, a Syrian woman who had been a schoolteacher in her hometown of Deir-Ez-Zor and is now a refugee at Kavala, while MdM staff dressed in costumes to act out roles from the book, including Halima and the men, women and children she meets on her trip.
Zoi said: ‘It was a really good activity. Some of the children here have never been to a real school, and so this story was something they listened to and enjoyed. We also got them involved, by getting them to paint and make masks of the characters. It’s a really nice story, and helped to give the children an educational activity they can do socially, as well. It brought us all together.’
1) The producers of The Journey of Halima hope to distribute the book to every refugee child who passes through Greece. They are fundraising at: http://thejourneyofhalima.com/
2) As of 23 October 2016, there are 51 children at Kavala refugee camp: 14 aged 0-3; 8 aged 4-6; 20 aged 7-12; 9 aged 13-16. Despite efforts elsewhere in Greece, no school places have yet been provided to any of the children here, and because the war in Syria began in 2011, it is believed around 30 of the children have never been to an official school.
3) As part of its mental health promotion and protection activities, MdM has been actively working to provide social and educational activities for children and young people.