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BounceBack4Syria - giving kids a chance to be kids again.

  • Help us reach 1000 children this year.

      11 March 2024
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    Winter is nearly over in the Northern Hemisphere and the children in Syria will undoubtedly be ready for the opportunity to play outside when the weather permits! As we gear up to launch the next stages of the BounceBack4Syria project, we are reflecting on the progress that has been made thanks to all those who have donated.

    2023, in particular, was a year of tremendous growth and action for our program. 560 children participated in BounceBack4Syria’s 6-week resilience building program- an increase of 151% from the previous year-, play equipment was delivered to 465 families, and 161 parents collaborated with our educators to discuss building resilient practices in their children. This progress would not have been possible without the generous support of our donors.

    In response to the success of 2023 and the ever-growing demand for more participation in our program, we are raising our fundraising goals to $50,000NZD. With this support, we will be able to provide 1,000 children with the skillset to build a better future and 250 parents with the tools to help their children build resilience through play.

    Our team of educators on the ground in Syria will be back in camps this April/May. We look forward to beginning the 2024 stages and providing the opportunity for more kids to just be kids.

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  • “In the winter the tent is full, and we can’t do anything, we sit and wrap ourselves in blankets”.

      5 January 2024
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    As we come to the end of our calendar year, and the start of a new one, the children who have been part of the BounceBack Project during the past 3 years are settling into winter. Living in a tent in winter is no fun! Safa (12) told us that “In the winter the tent is full, and we can’t do anything, we sit and wrap ourselves in blankets”. It is hard to imagine the hardships families face. We know that a canvas covering provide little shelter from the harsh conditions and having to trek outside to use the toilet is something we can find challenging in our summer camping months let alone through snow and mud. Boredom is a challenge for everyone.

    Stage 9 has now been completed and over 560 children engaged with the activity programme in 2023. With new friendships built and a wealth of new game ideas gained, we hope that the winter days go more quickly. One of the huge benefits of the project has been a raised awareness for parents of the value of engaging with their children. Our case studies confirm this with such messages from parents such as this one, “The children are playing together in a large square, and the parents are getting closer, participating, and contributing to organizing the children”.

    I want to acknowledge great fundraising efforts from Epsom Girls’ Grammar and St Marys College, Auckland this past year as well as some wonderful donations from caring donors. Your kindness and caring shines a light of hope for the children in Syria.

    Happy New Year to you all.

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  • Continuing to Enrich Young Lives Amidst Adversity: Our Journey in Northwest Syria

      11 October 2023
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    The realities of life in Northwestern Syria regularly ground us & make us appreciate out peaceful lives – realities that include delaying a project because of temperatures of over 43C degrees, the dissolution of camps we would have chosen to revisit and just this last week bombing and military action in nearby areas.

    However, we continue to enjoy the opportunity we have to enrich the lives of the young people we work with. Over 500 children have taken part in activities with the Education Workers since June. Our Education workers pass on such comments as these:

    “Children's drawings hide feelings that they do not talk about, that they do not know how to describe, or that they are not comfortable expressing in language and speech. We can feel them through the drawing and comments. Many of the drawings talk about the state of deprivation experienced by children and the scarcity of trying new things. Despite their simplicity, they are inspiring and make us feel the importance of standing by them”.

    Recently we were able to revisit one of the original camps we worked in and replenish their toys as well as running an abridged version of the project with them including the art.

    We look forward to starting Stage 9 this month which will allow us to complete activities before the cold and snow of winter sets in.

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  • “There is something completely different in their lives”.

      6 April 2023
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    December 2022 saw the completion of Stage 5 of the BounceBack4Syria Project and the onset of winter in Syria. Photos of the children showed them in warm jackets and hats. During the year we provided over 1600 children with items such as hula hoops, soccer balls, pencils, writing books, art materials and other items aimed at increasing well-being, building team work and fostering leadership. Over 400 families had received our support in adding to the resilience of their children.

    The message we heard back from parents repeatedly was that “Now that they have games, attend activities, learn a lot of skills and learn resilience , there is something completely different in their lives. They each have their own games. They love each other. They cooperate with each other. They meet and set up games. They have become less aggressive. We hope that this situation continues between them”.

    Winter in Syria is a quiet time for the BounceBack4Syria team on the ground in Syria. As temperatures plummet and snow and mud become a part of everyday life, parents are reluctant to let children out to play. Washing muddy clothes and getting them dry is a challenging task for those living in camps. However, we are looking at how we can support families during this time. Being stuck in a tent for days on end with little to do must be terribly trying. We are ready to take on the challenge this presents and to look at ways to make the project year long.

    We will be back in camps delivering our programme from April/May 2023, planning to reach more children and parents this year. The earthquakes in February have made supporting the wellbeing of those in camps even more important. After 12 years of war and now natural disaster we are looking forward to putting smiles on the faces of many more children.

    In my next update I will share the efforts of schools and organisations who are supporting the project through raising awareness and fundraising. We couldn’t do this without you!

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  • Childen in the camps in Syria are loving drawing and painting for the first time in their lives!

      14 June 2022
    Posted by: ReliefAid
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    Firstly, apologies for the delay in providing an update on BounceBack4Syria before now. The reality is that the first half of the year has been super busy – in a very good way.

    The team who deliver the project with the children have just completed a 6-week project where they were in a camp Al Frosia three time a week. This camp was quite small by comparison to many others but over 60 families benefitted from the programme. Some of the children we worked with had been in camps for more than eight years and others had moved into this life in the past two or three years. Once again there was no school, the children didn’t really play with each other and their access to materials to play with came from a nearby dump. At the start of the project parents spoke of children displaying aggression and depression and we were thrilled to hear of positive behaviours having taken over through working together and the team play that happened.

    We introduced a new aspect to the project with the inclusion of art activities. This was made possible with a donation of money for resources and time to help create art activities by an interested donor. Thank you so much. Offering these activities proved educational for us as many children hadn’t ever had the chance to put pen to paper let alone paint or pastels. It was also rewarding to see the concentration and enjoyment the children showed whilst working on their images. Check out the gallery for pictures. We definitely want to carry this element on in the next project due to start before the end of July.

    Another highlight and aspect that has taken a lot of time this past 6 months is encouraging schools to learn about BounceBack4Syria. We are always grateful for their fundraising efforts and even more so by the opportunity to raise the awareness of our kiwi children of the circumstances facing many children in war zones. A big thank you to those who have held bake sales, mufti days and invited me in to speak. Please let others know that they too can get involved. Thank you also to those who have donated through this Give a Little page. All of the work I do is as a volunteer and your contributions go 100% to make this project happen in Syria.

    While you are here check out the gallery and our latest video and enjoy the smiles

    Bernadette Stockman

    Education Manager

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  • From Sardine Cans to Hula Hoops. A Successful Resilience Project Completed.

      20 January 2022
    Posted by: ReliefAid
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    On October 18th, our Syrian based team, including Education Workers, Fatima and Rafed, arrived at the camp to distribute toys to children- as they went from tent to tent, they gave the family a bag from ReliefAid. Children had told us earlier that the toys they played with were old sardine cans that they pretended were cars and modelled homes and villages out of mud. Now they were being given balls, hula hoops, skipping ropes and whiteboards - and the reaction from the children was one of disbelief.

    The distribution of toys was only the beginning of this project. A week later Fatima and Rafed arrived to spend time playing games and teaching the children how to use the toys in new and interesting ways. Time was spent building relationships with the children and their parents and each visit had a focus on a particular set of activities. By providing challenges children were given the opportunity to practice both physical skills and resilience building ideas. Many benefits of the visits were becoming quite obvious. “Every visit I see a big improvement in the behaviour of the children, they play with each other, .and they cooperate with each other. Some of them were shy during previous visits, but today we found them playing and having fun.”

    During each visit Rafed and Fatima would also take time talking to the parents about how they could play with their children and help build both their relationships with their children but also skills to help their wellbeing. Many parents told us that they their daily struggles had distanced them from their children. It was encouraging when Fatima told us “What I noticed is the change in the parents’ view of the value of play. At first, they did not attach any importance to playing with their children. After these visits, they started playing with their children at home, and this is a wonderful thing”.

    Twice a week for the following 7 weeks, Fatima and Rafed would be greeted enthusiastically by girls and boys keen to play. As weeks went by more and more children joined in the games. A young girl, scarred by fire from a kerosene stove found the courage to come out of her tent and finally make some friends. A young boy, with a broken leg, would be carried by his mother to each play day so he could join in with the others. Children called out to those they had never met and invited them to play.

    As the weeks went on, natural leaders were identified amongst the children. Our plan was that once the project was over the activities would be carried on by these children who would use their leadership skills. We knew that winter was setting in and soon the children would be spending far more time in their tents to avoid the snow and mud. After a final session, where biscuits and juice was given to each of the children, we also replaced the worn-out whiteboards to make sure they could play the fun games we had taught them during the long winter hours.

    So now after the completion of a project with a model we consider having been successful for all sorts of reasons, we are reviewing and planning for 2022. We will be looking to raise funds to provide this opportunity for even more children living in displaced persons camps in Syria. This project has given these children an opportunity to look forward in hope, with increased resilience to make the most of the future they deserve.

    Last word goes to Rafed who was told by the parents “…We will continue to play with our children, you gave us ideas we did not know, and the children learned to organize and arrange, now they learned group play and the situation became better.”

    A huge thank you to all the donors who make this project possible. Remember to check out the photos on the gallery and share in the happiness you have brought.

    Bernadette Stockman

    Education Manager


    Some of my favourite quotes from the children:

    “I did not have a board to learn reading. We got a board and games. My father taught me the letters and I became reading.”

    “It was even better when you went you told us play with the little kids and teach them. We collect the kids and play with them.”

    “When I was facing difficulties that I could not solve, now I have learned and I can solve them. Before I could not.”

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  • It's too hot to deliver toys in Syria - we are on track for September

      26 August 2021
    Posted by: ReliefAid

    It's been a while since I posted an update, and you may be wondering what is happening. Well, a lot of work has been going on to get ready for this next delivery. As you will know we were planning to engage an Education Worker to extend the use of the equipment we are arranging for the children in a camp. We are really pleased to tell you that your generosity will allow us to have two people, a man and a woman, working with the children to build resilience. We are currently recruiting, and I have been busy preparing a handbook for them to use.

    We have also added to the list of activities we provided last time and have added a small whiteboard and pen, as well as a tennis ball to the kit with the skipping rope, sensory ball, soccer ball and hula hoop. These new additions will be able to be used inside the tent so providing more opportunity for spending productive time.

    Now we are waiting for the weather – it isn’t rain, or cold that is the problem, it is the heat. Most days the temperature is around 40 degrees, way too hot for children to be outside playing. So, the plan is to distribute in September when it should start to cool down a little.

    I’m looking forward to sending you some photos of happy children very soon.

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  • Planning to bring joy to children in Syria

      17 June 2021
    Posted by: ReliefAid
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    Here is an update on the BounceBack4Syria and a reminder that we are still raising funds. Please let your family and friends know that they can make a difference. We are also happy to talk to groups and schools about our work to raise awareness for the ongoing needs of children in conflict zones.

    Right now, we are ramping up to make a distribution made possible with your donations. Whilst we are still working towards our target, planning has started for a second distribution. Out team in Syria will soon identify a camp where children are unable to attend school and plan a distribution of activity materials that promote resilience. An addition to the projetct will be to provide some adult support – a bit like a sport coach – to help the children get the most out of the toys we provide. I am looking at the range of materials that we could use and how we can make the second distribution as successful as possible.

    We have completed a review of the pilot scheme and were delighted to bring joy to so many children and their families. It not only built resilience but provided an opportunity for these children to spend time experiencing joy and laughter. Many children made new friends and worked with their parents and siblings to master new skills. Malak told us. “I liked the skipping rope very much. I learned it quickly and it makes me jump high in the air”.

    Thanks again for you help and support.

    Check out the Facebook page for ReliefAid

    and our website

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