Helping Refugee Children Cope in the Liminal Space
‘What happens if you lose what appears to be your “everything” and you do not know what to do next? If you feel that you are anxiously floating in the in between, perhaps you are in The Liminal Space’(Barron, 2016)
This is the harsh reality for the Syrian and Iraqi children who have come to seek refuge in Lagkadikia camp. These children are in a constant liminal space. They have fled their war torn countries and left “everything” they know behind.
‘Many of these children know nothing more than conflict, violence, forced displacement, and their current deplorable conditions which offer little hope for their future’ (savethechildren.net, 2016).
Furthermore, given the exposure that young refugee children have had to conflict and violence, their version of ‘normal’ can impact on how they respond and react to everyday situations, including play and games.
The children of Lagkadikia need alot of support to be able to both cope and recover from this liminal space they have been forced to live in. The effects of conflict and crisis can severely impact a child’s physical safety, well-being and ability to learn. The children of Lagkadikia will require psychosocial programs, that will help them to process the images of war, violence and loss that they have experienced.
Project Philoxenia aims to provide this support using a SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) program within its Child Friendly Space.
A SEL program is important as it helps children cope with trauma, improve social skills, self image, academic performance and decrease emotional distress and aggression (IRC, 2016).
What is the SEL program?
The SEL program that Project Philoxenia plans to implement, is based on the Social-Emotional Learning program endorsed by IRC (International Rescue Committee), a non profit organisation.
The SEL program is designed to give children the opportunity to engage in structured, age appropriate psychosocial activities and games which incorporate the following important competencies:
• Brain Building
The set of skills that helps us focus our attention, remember instructions and concepts, manage impulses, successfully juggle multiple tasks, and organize steps and information logically.
• Emotion Regulation
The set of skills that allows us to understand our own emotions and manage our feelings in a positive manner.
• Positive Social Skills
The set of skills that allows us to relate to one another in a positive way by understanding others’ feelings and behaviour, and responding in a way that reduces conflict and promotes positive social interaction.
• Conflict Resolution
The set of skills that helps us address any problems and conflicts in a positive manner, as they arise.
The set of skills that allows us to push through challenges and continue to work towards a realistic goal.
This will be integrated throughout the curriculum and is part of every SEL Lesson. Mindfulness is the intentional state of being aware and focused on the present moment and accepting reality. Mindfulness can teach concentration, self-awareness and emotion regulation. By the end of the SEL Intervention, children should understand the benefits of mindfulness for reducing feelings of anxiety and stress, focusing their attention, and learning to persevere through hardship. (shls.rescue.org, 2016)
When do the SEL sessions run?
The SEL program will run five mornings a week, Monday – Friday.
Access the Child Friendly Space timetable for timings.
A Poem of Hope for the Children of Lagkadikia