At the beginning of this fall semester the grassroots committee, the DIS Refugee Action Committee, was established to allow students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to get involved with the growing Syrian Refugee Crisis. Our subcommittee the Friend in a Box team was able to accomplish turning an idea into a tangible product.
The team is currently working with a public school in Turkey where there are 75 Syrian refugee children. These children most likely suffer from PTSD and have a language barrier that restricts communication with their peers. In order to address some of their needs, the Friend in a Box team has developed a backpack that will give these 75 Syrian children supplies to help educate and integrate them into the Turkish school while also addressing their mental health.
To create this product the team has conducted specific research into the refugee situation in Turkey. The team has also interviewed the public school teachers who teach these 75 students, NGOS such as UNICEF, the Child Studies Unit at Bigli University, the IOM, and other organizations that work with refugees and children. We have gone through a lengthy process in order to ensure that the items we select for the backpack will be helpful and not detrimental to these students’ health and social interaction.
The theme of the backpack is friendship. We want to help these Syrian refugees communicate with their Turkish peers despite a language barrier. As a result, some of the components we plan to incorporate in the backpack need multiple players. Everything that we include will also be translated into three languages: English, Turkish, and Arabic. Our hope is that the backpack will contain supplies that will prompt the students to interact with one another inside and outside of the classroom.
The bag includes a journal/coloring book with personal prompts, a game designed and produced by the subcommittee and DIS affiliates, a handbook for coping with trauma, coloring supplies, a ball or hacky sack, a stuffed animal, play-doh, a puzzle and other miscellaneous activities and toys
The Syrian refugee crisis is growing every day. While we can only provide backpacks for these 75 children this semester, our goal is for future DIS students to expand upon what we have accomplished this semester.
In order to send these 75 refugee children backpacks by the end of the calendar year we need your help in order to fund the costs of shipping the backpacks and also for purchasing supplies that are not being produced through DIS. We would greatly appreciate your support in helping ensure that these students receive backpacks by the end of December.
The DIS Refugee Action Committee “Friend in a Box” Team