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Syria: stories of courage and resilience

White-capped blue sea to my right and snowy mountains to my left as we drive back down the Lebanese coast towards Beirut – such a beautiful sight.

It’s a world away but less than an hour from the stormy skies of Wadi Khaled on the Syrian border, where I have just been meeting with pregnant women, new mums and schoolchildren who have fled the conflict in Homs.

I had read the reports on our work here – setting up safe play areas for children with art and drama therapy, running after-school catch-up and language classes to help prepare children to cope in new schools, distributing baby-care kits to expecting families, and so on.

But, as always, nothing prepared me for the human stories and warmth of actually meeting the people themselves.

People behind the headlines

The grandma, with her daughter’s seven-day-old baby girl who, on collecting her box of nappies, towels and ointments, smiled silently and kissed me on both cheeks.

The nine-year-old boy, who in front of his new friends, described how he felt terrified before arriving here.

Save the Children’s locally hired social worker, proud of the little girl she had coaxed out of her shell to sing a song.

While the political picture looks grim, and families continue to suffer, there is still much to take heart from in the day-to-day, small victories of our staff and partners on the ground.

The resilience of the children as they laugh and play together is contagious. It’s hard to imagine what they’ve been through, leaving everything behind, even family members, and not knowing if and when they’ll be able to go back. And these are the lucky ones.

I’m struck by the posters warning children not to mistake landmines for toys – “stay far away don’t pick them up!”

Doing everything possible

Our team here is committed to doing everything possible for the Syrian families that arrive seeking refuge in Lebanon.

We’ve been responding to the rights and needs of refugees for decades – first the Palestinians, then the Iraqis and now the Syrians.

It’s not easy as the groups are dispersed, numbers are changing all the time, and funding is uncertain. On the border, the number one challenge is security.

I’m glad to be here helping draw attention to the great work the team are doing. Everyone is putting in a lot of extra hours but the rewards are highlighted in the faces of the children we visited today.

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